Tributes paid to cricket legend's wife

TRIBUTES have been paid to Jane McGrath - the wife of former Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath - who died yesterday, aged 42. Mrs McGrath, formerly of Norwich, died after a long battle with cancer.

TRIBUTES have been paid to Jane McGrath - the wife of former Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath - who died yesterday, aged 42.

Mrs McGrath, formerly of Norwich, died after a long battle with cancer. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and was then diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006.

She had surgery earlier this year, but her health had suddenly declined in recent weeks. She died at her home in Sydney with her husband and children James, eight, and Holly, six, by her side.

Mrs McGrath (nee Steele), who became an Australian citizen in 2002, was a well-known and popular charity campaigner and fundraiser in her adopted country, raising 12 million Australian dollars (£5.8m) to help other women with cancer through the McGrath Foundation she set up with her husband.

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said: "Jane's courageous struggle touched all Australians."

Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting, on tour with the national side in the West Indies, said: "Jane was a wonderful person who fought and maintained grace and dignity during her long-term illness. She was an exceptionally friendly and lovely person who displayed great courage and stoicism during her illness."

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Mrs McGrath was an air hostess when she met her future husband in a Hong Kong nightclub in 1995.

She admitted to not recognising the cricketer at the time, even though McGrath was already a sporting hero in Australia who would go on to take 583 Test wickets in a career spanning 14 years.

She underwent a mastectomy during Australia's Ashes tour of England in August 1997 and the couple were married in Sydney in July 1999.

McGrath told an Australian chat show he had never witnessed so much physical courage as when his wife battled cancer.

But six years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Mrs McGrath felt a pain in her hip that was diagnosed as secondary cancer.

Next she was struck with a brain tumour, originally diagnosed as inoperable. Mrs McGrath underwent successful brain surgery after former Australia captain Steve Waugh recommended a neurosurgeon.

But tragedy struck again and the McGraths pulled out of several sporting functions in February to allow Mrs McGrath to undergo undisclosed surgery in March.

In January, she was too unwell to accept the honour of becoming a Member of the Order of Australia. "She wanted me to pass on that it was a huge surprise for her and she's so thrilled and it is a great honour," her husband said at the time.

McGrath, 38, retired from international cricket last year and has recently played for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League.

He played for Worcestershire in 2000. The county's chief executive said: "Everyone at Worcestershire is so sad to hear the news. We can only send our deepest sympathy to him and his family."

A statement posted on the McGrath Foundation website requested privacy for the family "at this difficult time".

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