Known throughout his career for maintaining an accurate line and length, McGrath's consistency enabled him to be one of the most economical and dangerous fast bowlers of his time. McGrath holds the world record for the highest number of Test wickets by a fast bowler and is fourth on the all-time list, with the top three wicket takers Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and Anil Kumble all being spin bowlers. He has also taken the seventh-highest number of one day international wickets (381), and holds the record for the most wickets in the Cricket World Cup. McGrath announced his retirement from Test cricket on 23 December 2006, with his Test career coming to an end after the fifth Ashes test in Sydney in January 2007, whilst the 2007 World Cup marked the end of his one-day career, in which he won the man of the tournament award for his outstanding bowling which was instrumental in Australia winning the tournament. McGrath later played for the Indian Premier League team of the Delhi DareDevils, and was one of the tournaments' most economical bowlers during its first season, but he saw no action in the second season, ultimately having his contract bought out.
McGrath is the director of MRF Pace Foundation, Chennai, replacing Dennis Lillee, who served for 25 years. He currently serves as the Co-Founder and President of the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer support and education charity he founded with his deceased first wife, Jane.
McGrath, along with Rahul Dravid, was honoured during the seventh annual Bradman Awards function in Sydney on November 1, 2012. He was inducted into ICC Hall of fame in January 2013.
He is currently a commentator for Channel Nine's cricket coverage.
McGrath was born in Dubbo, to Beverly and Kevin McGrath. He grew up in Narromine, New South Wales (NSW) where he first played cricket and his potential was spotted by Doug Walters. He moved to Sydney to play grade cricket for Sutherland, and made his debut for NSW during the 1992–93 season. McGrath capped his rapid rise in the next Australian summer with selection in the Test team after only eight first-class matches.
McGrath's Test debut was against New Zealand at Perth, in 1993–1994. In Australia's 1995 Test series victory, McGrath took the approach of bouncing the West Indies team including the bowlers, which had not happened before. In McGrath's biography, Ricky Ponting is quoted as saying:
McGrath played for Worcestershire in the 2000 English County Championship, proving both successful on the field and popular with the county's supporters. In 14 first-class games he took 80 wickets at 13.21, including an outstanding innings return of 8–41 against Northamptonshire, as well as making his first ever first-class half-century (55 against Nottinghamshire). He also played a few games for Middlesex in 2004; although accurate, he could manage only nine wickets in four first-class appearances for the county.
During the 1st Test at Lords in the 2005 Ashes series Glenn McGrath became the fourth bowler in history to take 500 Test wickets with the dismissal of Marcus Trescothick. This wicket was also the start of a very productive spell of 5–2 which led to England being bowled out for 155. McGrath took 4–29 in the 2nd innings and was named man of the match in a comprehensive Australian victory.
McGrath trod on a cricket ball and injured his ankle the morning before the start of the 2nd Test at Edgbaston and was unable to play in the match in which England amassed 407 runs in one day against the McGrath-less bowling attack to win by 2 runs. He was rushed back when not fully fit for the 3rd Test at Old Trafford, where he earned another 5-wicket haul in the 2nd innings of a drawn game, batting in a last-wicket partnership with Brett Lee in the last hour of the Test to deny an English victory. He then missed the 4th Test at Trent Bridge, which England won by 3 wickets, with an elbow injury. McGrath returned for the final Test at The Oval but he, and the rest of the Australian team, were unable to force a result and the match was drawn, giving England the series win. McGrath's injury problems are seen as a key factor in England regaining the Ashes, as their victories came in matches in which he was absent.
Australia hosted England in the 2006-07 Ashes series and quickly regained the Ashes, beating England 5–0, only the second 5–0 series whitewash in Ashes history (the first time was by the Australian team during the 1920–1921 Ashes Series, and the later 2013–14 Ashes series). Having taken a break from cricket since April 2006, McGrath used the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy to reclaim his spot in Australia's test XI. He took a 6 wicket haul in his comeback innings in the first test at the Gabba to set the tone for the rest of the series, with Australia winning back the Ashes in a record breaking 15 days of play. McGrath took 21 wickets in the series at an average of 23.90, as well as scoring 10 runs and taking 1 catch in what was to be his final test series.
In his biography McGrath wrote:
On 23 December 2006, McGrath announced his retirement from tests. His last test was the Fifth Ashes Test against England in Sydney in January 2007, where he took a wicket with the last ball of his test career. He has also retired from all forms of international cricket following the successful 2007 Cricket World Cup where he became the leading wicket taker in the history of the World Cup, while also being the top wicket taker with 26 and being named player of the tournament.
McGrath was signed by the Delhi DareDevils for the first season of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition in 2008, for a sum of US$350,000 (INR 1.4 crore). His team shirt bore the name "Pidge", short form for his nickname "Pigeon". The 2009 IPL was played in South Africa owing to safety concerns, but McGrath was used only to increase the bench strength of the Delhi Daredevils for whole of the tournament; in spite of being the most economic bowler for Delhi in the previous season, he did not play a single match. On 5 January 2010 the franchise announced that it had bought out the remaining year of McGrath's contract for $350,000, effectively bringing his cricketing career to an end.
McGrath's bowling was not of express pace. Rather, he relied on unerring accuracy and subtle seam movement due to his high wrist action and lengthy follow-through. His height (195 cm), combined with a high arm action, allowed him to extract extra bounce from most pitches that often surprised batsmen. In the later years of his career, he developed as a swing bowler.
His uncomplicated method and natural physical fitness were significant factors in the longevity of McGrath's career. In 2004, he became the first Australian fast bowler to play 100 Tests. In the first innings of the ICC Super Series Test match in 2005, McGrath passed Courtney Walsh to become the greatest wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Test history.
McGrath was regarded as one of the best fast bowlers in the world and has had success against every opposition team, in both Test and one-day cricket. He deliberately (and publicly) targeted the opposition's best batsmen prior to a series in an attempt to distract them, a ploy which regularly worked. At the beginning of the Frank Worrell series against the West Indies he stated in interviews before the match, that he would dismiss Sherwin Campbell for his 299th wicket, then remove star batsman Brian Lara for his 300th wicket the very next ball. In a masterstroke this happened as planned, following this with the dismissal of captain Jimmy Adams to complete a memorable hat trick. The targeting of opposition batsmen was generally successful; he dismissed Mike Atherton of England 19 times – the most times any batsman has been dismissed by one bowler in cricket history. On the other hand, he targeted Michael Vaughan prior to the 2002/03 Ashes series in Australia, with Vaughan going on to score three centuries at an average greater than 60. He targeted Andrew Strauss in the 2005 series in England, who went on to score two centuries.
He also tended to engage in sledging of opposition batsmen and teams, though it didn't always pay off. Before the 2005 Ashes series he predicted a 5–0 whitewash for Australia, and even said that if England won the Ashes he would return to Australia by boat, but England prevailed 2–1. However, this did not dissuade him from making a similar 5–0 prediction for the next Ashes series, in Australia in 2006/07 which turned out to be true. He finished his career as the most successful Test fast-bowler and 3rd highest Test wicket taker. However his Test wicket haul was surpassed by Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble during India's tour of England 2007.
McGrath was a competent outfielder with a strong and accurate throwing arm; whilst not known for his athleticism, on one memorable occasion in 2002 he took an exceptional outfield catch at the Adelaide Oval against England, dismissing English batsman Michael Vaughan from the bowling of Shane Warne, running many metres before leaping into the air and catching the ball with arms outstretched and his body horizontal (see Google Video video ). His captain, Steve Waugh, described the famous catch as "a miracle" and "one of the great catches in history".
McGrath's batting prowess, in the early phases of his career was non-existent; in fact, he scored first-ball ducks (zero runs) on both his Test  and One-Day International  debuts, and his batting average hovered below 4 for the first few years of his career. Years of patient tutelage from captain and friend Steve Waugh have improved this aspect of his game, to the point where he scored a Test half century which came on 20 November 2004 against New Zealand  at the Gabba. His final score in that innings was 61. Nevertheless, McGrath was for the duration of his career regarded as a batting 'bunny', although to his credit coaching from Steve Waugh and others helped to push his average up to above 7.00 runs/dismissal by the end of his career. In the first World Cricket Tsunami Appeal charity match, he was promoted to bat at number 6 ahead of specialist batsmen Stephen Fleming and Matthew Hayden, but was dismissed first ball trying to slog Muttiah Muralitharan. Towards the end of his international career, McGrath, while not scoring many runs himself, became rather more difficult for opposing bowlers to dismiss, being dismissed only once during the 2005 Ashes series. With a contribution of 11 runs in the first innings of the MCG 2005 Boxing Day Test versus South Africa , he stood his ground for 53 deliveries, helping Michael Hussey push the Australian tail to a record tenth wicket stand against South Africa of 107 runs.
Glenn's first wife, Jane Louise (née Steele), was born in the United Kingdom and had worked as a flight attendant before their marriage. Glenn and Jane met at a Hong Kong nightclub called "Joe Bananas" in 1995, and married in 2001. They had two children, James and Holly. Jane McGrath fought recurrent battles with metastatic breast cancer, having been first diagnosed in 1997. On 26 January 2008 (Australia Day) Glenn and Jane McGrath were both made Members of the Order of Australia. Jane McGrath died, aged 42, on 22 June 2008 from complications following cancer surgery.
Glenn McGrath met Sara Leonardi, an interior designer, during the 2009 Indian Premier League. They married at home in Cronulla on 18 November 2010. In April 2011 McGrath put his home on the market for $6 million. In May 2015, the couple announced they are expecting their first child together, due in October. On September 4th, 2015, they welcomed a daughter, Madison Mary Harper McGrath.
In 2015 McGrath received widespread criticism when it was revealed he had killed a variety of animals during a hunting safari in South Africa. Photographs of McGrath appeared on the website of Chipitani Safaris, a game park, showing him crouched beside what looked to be a dead buffalo, two hyenas and the tusks of an elephant. He subsequently expressed his regret. McGrath had earlier told Australian Shooter magazine that "I’m keen to get into trophy hunting, no animal in particular, but a big safari in Africa would be great."
In 2002 Glenn and Jane founded the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer support and education charity in Australia, which raises money to fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities right across Australia and increase breast awareness in young women. Since 2007, on the third day of the first Test held in Sydney Cricket Ground is named Jane McGrath Day, even if the day is washed out. Following the death of Jane, his wife, in June 2008 due to breast cancer. Glenn accepted the voluntary role of Chairman of the Board of the McGrath Foundation, and participates in many activities in support of the Foundation to ensure the fulfilment of the Foundation's vision. As of April 2016, the McGrath Foundation has placed 110 McGrath Breast Care Nurses around Australia, who have helped support more than 33,000 Australian families.
In 2001, McGrath was one of just twenty-one Australian athletes inducted into the Australian Institute of Sport Best of the Best list.
McGrath was named a Member of the Order of Australia on 26 January (Australia Day) in 2008 for "service to cricket as a player", and along with his wife for "service to the community through the establishment of the McGrath Foundation." In 2008 McGrath was also named the NSW Australian of the Year. On 31 December 2012, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
McGrath was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2011 and the ICC Hall of fame in January 2012.
McGrath holds seven highest tenth wicket partnerships, and two tenth wicket partnerships of 100 plus.
McGrath held the record for conceding the least runs in a test best 5-wicket haul (until Stuart Broad's 8/15), and the best 10-wicket haul in a test match (Broad never bowled in the second innings).
At the time of his retirement he held the record for most runs scored as a number eleven batsman (603). This record has since been surpassed by Muttiah Muralitharan.
After his dismissal for a duck in the fourth test of the 2006–2007 Ashes series, McGrath claimed the record of having scored more ducks in test cricket than any other Australian cricketer (35 – one more than Shane Warne).
McGrath holds the record for dismissing the most batsmen for ducks in test cricket (104).
His win-loss record at World Cup tournaments is impressive; he's been in four tournaments (1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007), two less than the record. Australia won three of those (1999, 2003 and 2007) and were runners-up in 1996 to Sri Lanka. He also holds most bowling records in ICC Cricket World Cup, including most wickets, most wickets in a single tournament, best bowling figures, bowling average and most maiden overs.
Mcgrath holds a unique record of picking a wicket of his last ball of Test career, last ball of ODI career and last ball of his last ODI in Australia.
McGrath was inducted into ICC Hall of fame in January 2013.