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Gilchrist the great potential match winner for Aussies

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Johannesburg: Adam Gilchrist - Gilchrist the Great, one Australian newspaper christened him - must rank as potentially the number one match-winner in the tournament. Tall, lean and left-handed, the 31-year-old has the capacity to destroy any attack with his fearless, frenzied stroke making against pace and spin. He has become an explosive opener in the One-day arena, where he can take full toll of field restrictions.

Unconcerned about risks in lofting the ball, he has shots all round the wicket, but is especially devastating with his squarish off-side strokes and those down the ground. Gilchrist forms an outstanding opening liaison with fellow left-hander Matthew Hayden. The pair demonstrated just how dangerous they can be when they slammed 118 off 12.2 overs in 57 minutes against a quality England attack in a tri-nations series final in Sydney in January. Gilchrist smashed 69 not out - all but nine in boundaries - from 37 balls.

In the same match, he starred with the wicket-keeping gloves to snatch six victims. Born in the New South Wales (NSW) country, 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of Sydney, Gilchrist was obliged, because of the talent in his home State, to travel to faraway Western Australia to make a mark in first-class cricket.

It was anything but a smooth transition. Some Perth fans even booed the youngster in his early games in the West eight seasons ago after State selectors had dropped former Test wicket-keeper Tim Zoehrer to make room for the import. But it was not long before Gilchrist's electrifying displays with bat and gloves earned the respect and affection of WACA Ground spectators as he trod the road towards international stardom.

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