McGrath wary of Lara threat

Glenn McGrath may have taken Brian Lara's wicket 14 times in Tests, but the legendary fast bowler is deeply respectful of the the West Indian's talents. McGrath's dominance over Lara is almost double that of the next most successful bowler, Andre Nel, who has taken his wicket eight times.

McGrath, who often nominates his batting "bunny" in the opposing team - for the Ashes this summer, he targeted Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss - but he chose his words carefully today before the second Test on Thursday at Hobart.

"I think he is different now, he seems a little bit different to when I first played. I think there is more a mental aspect when I am bowling to him these days," he said.

"But once he gets set, he is still a great striker of the ball and can score very quickly, so I think a lot of times I have knocked him over, I have knocked him over quite cheaply. If I get him out early, then great, if not he sometimes goes on to make a great score."

Lara, who has scored 10,903 runs in Test cricket, needs just 25 runs to overtake the former Australian captain, Steve Waugh (10,927), and become the second all-time leading run scorer in Tests behind Allan Border.

His form has been a concern, however, with a run of poor scores for the West Indies, and the World XI. However, it has been his determination to occupy the crease that has the Australians cautious of Lara.

"I think on his day he still can be [as good as ever], it depends on how he is going, how much he wants it, and how things go out in the middle. He is still a dangerous batsman," McGrath said.

Lara's Test record in Australia is 1,168 runs at 37.68, well below his career average of 53.45.

West Indian opener Wavell Hinds, an outside chance of playing in Hobart after damaging a finger earlier in the tour, felt Lara was ready to produce a big innings.

"Brian has been batting pretty well in the nets and is hitting them well, but he just needs some time at the wicket as he tried to do in the first Test," Hinds said.

"It did not come off, but I back him to come out and pull off a very good performance. Brian is obviously the best batsman in the world. He is a great motivator in terms of scoring runs and setting a platform for our team to follow."