Gilchrist savours sweet sixes success

Published: Sunday, November 18, 2007, 12:12 [IST]
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For Adam Gilchrist it's that split-second when he connects sweetly with the ball to send it skywards for a six that gives him the best adrenaline rush in cricket.

And the 36-year-old Australian cricketing phenomenon gets to enjoy that feeling quite often, on Saturday becoming the first batsman to hit 100 sixes in Test cricket with three more against Sri Lanka in the second Hobart Test.

Gilchrist, who has revolutionised the wicketkeeper's batting role at No.7 with 17 centuries in 92 Tests, is a match-winner for Australians, turning around matches with his aggressive late-order hitting.

Voted last week as Australia's greatest all-time one-day cricketer, he gave an insight into his cricket mindset after his typically breezy 67 not out off 77 balls with seven fours and three sixes.

"There is a split-second, a nano-second, just a moment in time when you are the only person in the whole world who knows that you've hit it right in the middle (of the bat)," Gilchrist said.

"A second later everyone else knows but that's just the best feeling as a batsman because you've probably taken a bit of a risk (to hit it)."

His third six off Muttiah Muralitharan to claim his Test 'century' cleared the ground's perimeter fencing and forced match officials to find a replacement ball.

The history-making ball has yet to be returned, much to Gilchrist's dismay.

"We haven't got the ball back, which is a bit frustrating," he said.

"I'm not a massive collector of memorabilia but I think there's probably a few little bits and pieces every cricketer has stashed away that means something to them and that's a unique little item so I'd love to get it back.

"Whoever's got it I would be more than grateful.

"There aren't many things that you do in life when you're the only person ever to have done it, so with that in mind it would be nice to have that particular ball that notched that hundred (of sixes).

"It's not a milestone you ever set out to achieve, but it's unique."

Gilchrist, who has earned a reputation of voluntarily 'walking' when out rather than waiting for the umpire's decision, said he only became aware of his approaching milestone earlier this year.

"I've been aware of this 100 sixes milestone because I read about in the paper but I hadn't really thought about it at all until I hit that first six off Lasith Malinga today and I thought 'oh that's right it's coming up'," he said.

"It came into my mind a bit and I tried to slog sweep Murali (Muralitharan) that I skied and nearly got caught.

"I was able to clear my mind after that and the sixes at the end were very natural free-flowing shots, not trying to bludgeon the ball over the ropes.

"When I'm not thinking about trying to be overly aggressive and not trying to hit the ball over the fence that's when my natural instincts come in and it happens a bit more."

Gilchrist's dynamic hitting has netted 5,420 runs at 49.72 in Tests. He dwarfs the game's other great wicketkeeper batsmen for runs with England's Alec Stewart hitting 4,540 runs at 34.92, Zimbabwe's Andy Flower 4,404 at 53.71 and England's Alan Knott 4,389 at 32.75.

He opens the innings for Australia in one-day cricket and has amassed 15 hundreds.

Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said Gilchrist has taken lower order batting to another level.

"I've played against him quite a few times now and he's one of those guys who have changed Test cricket completely," Jayawardene said.

"We haven't seen a wicketkeeper-batsman doing that for quite some time in world cricket and he's one of those guys who come in at No.6 or No.7 and can change matches. He has won matches for Australia.

"He's taken that batting position at No.7 to the next level in Test cricket, he's been quite fantastic."

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