Gilchrist wiping cricket records in a hurry

Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

More images
Sydney:Who's world cricket's most dynamic player? Look no further than Adam Gilchrist after another match-turning century to snatch the first Test away from New Zealand.

Australia possess most of the titans of cricket's modern era: Warne, McGrath, Ponting, Langer, Hayden, Gillespie, Martyn, but it's Gilchrist whose batting ferocity at No.7 underpins this special collection of cricketers.

In the midst of so many match-winners it speaks volumes for his galvanising impact on the Australian team as they dominate both forms of world cricket.

Gilchrist has revolutionised the once-neglected role of wicketkeeper-batsman down the order since his debut against Pakistan in Brisbane in November 1999, shortly before his 28th birthday.

Australian cricket has much to be grateful for in the intervening period. In 66 consecutive Tests Gilchrist has played his part in 51 victories, accumulating 14 centuries along the way for 4,230 runs at an astonishing 53.54 runs every time he comes out to bat. No-one has scored more runs in Test history batting at seven.

But it is the extraordinary rate at which Gilchrist scores his runs that makes the clean-striking left-hander so special.

He has plundered six of the ten fastest Test centuries per balls by an Australian and claimed what was then the fastest 200 in Test history off 212 balls against South Africa in 2002.

Even when opposing teams have had Australia on the ropes and five wickets down for not many, it's often been the dreaded appearance of Gilchrist at the crease that has triggered an exhilarating counter-attack.

Just like what happened at Christchurch's Jade Stadium last weekend when Gilchrist came to the wicket with Australia 201 for six, 232 runs behind New Zealand's first innings and still 33 runs adrift of the follow-on.

Gilchrist pounded the hapless Kiwi bowlers for 121 off 126 balls with 12 fours and six sixes and when he was finally caught just inside the boundary rope he had Australia pulsing along at 413 for 7.

Gilchrist moved to third on the Test six-hitting list with 74 -- behind Chris Cairns' 87 and Viv Richards' 84.

The Kiwis never recovered from the psychological plummelling and were routed for 131, presenting the Australians with a comfortable victory target of 133 inside the fourth day.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was in no doubt who stole the Test from his expectant Kiwis.

"Gilchrist is the key factor," Fleming said. "Any other side, if you get to 430, it's going to take them until well into the fourth day to reach parity if they are going to compete. It comes back to the point that Gilchrist can score so quickly, then there's the pressure that Warne and McGrath can create so you don't score score as fast and you see a big shift.

"Gilchrist's got the ability to turn a game by being so positive and scoring his runs so quick ... he puts the foot down and gets them back in the game."

But that's not all to the remarkable Gilchrist story. He is a cricketer with a conscience, one who has stirred contrasting emotions in hard-nosed cricket by 'walking' before given out by the umpire.

Some have accused Gilchrist's moralist stance as a double-standard, in light of his raucous caught-behind appeals, even if replays show the ball has missed the bat.

Gilchrist has spoken of his dismay at the controversy over what's been termed his 'walking crusade'.

"I am just stunned, absolutely stunned at the reaction. I just can't believe where it's got to, it's out of control. It really is extraordinary to hear some of the things people are saying about that," he said recently.

"I've spoken about it with my wife and other people who I value... what I'm doing is right, it's right for me. I'm not out there to do it right for anyone else, I'm just trying to make the right decisions and do the right things more than I do the wrong things."

Gilchrist won plenty of admirers for a moral stance of another kind when before last January's Asian tsunami fund-raising match in Melbourne, he made a sobering observation.

"It shouldn't take one freak act of nature to realise how generous we can be," Gilchrist told a press conference ahead of the game. "For people out there, thanks for your support now, but please think about the long-term effect you can have."

"In Africa, up to 30,000 people die a day from disease and malnutrition, so if we can think about that long-term, there are wonderful opportunities to realise we can lend a hand."

Time is running out on a unique cricketer. Gilchrist has spoken of his likely retirement after the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean such is his desire to spend more time with his young family in Perth.

Write Comments