Adelaide: Tributes flowed from around the cricket world for Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist who announced his retirement at the weekend.
After 96 Tests, "Gilly" stunned the sport when he announced on Saturday evening that he would hang up his gloves after the upcoming triangular one-day series against Sri Lanka and India.
It also came a day after he became the new record holder for most dismissals by a wicketkeeper in Test cricket with 414.
The recurring theme from well-wishers, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was that the 36-year-old was one of the greats and had revolutionised the game, particularly the role of wicketkeeper-batsman.
With the bat Gilchrist averaged 47.60 in Tests, including 17 centuries, while he also clocked up 15 one-day hundreds.
Former Australian captain Kim Hughes compared him to batsman Sir Donald Bradman and champion leg-spinner Shane Warne, who are widely acknowledged as the greatest exponents of their crafts.
"He's is the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman the game has even seen. He changed the game, I have no doubt about that," Hughes told AFP.
"People will talk about him the way they talked about Bradman and compared batsmen to him by saying 'he's not as good as Bradman' and like Warne by saying 'he's not as good as Warne'.
"Wicketkeeper-batsmen will always be compared to Gilly and they will never be as good."
South African Mark Boucher, the man Gilchrist overtook for dismissals when he caught Anil Kumble on Friday, was another who said the Australian had raised the bar for wicketkeepers.
"He revolutionised the game in terms of being a wicketkeeper-batsman" Boucher told the Sun-Herald newspaper. "Gilly is streets ahead of the rest in that regard. He is the guy who set the tone for everyone else in the game, and he has changed it forever."
Gilchrist's predecessor in the Australian team, Ian Healy, told television broadcaster Channel Nine: "He's in the very top five of world cricketers.
"It's very easy to talk about his batting, but it was his glovework right from day one, in his first Test match in Brisbane, that I liked.
"He had two years in the one-day team and then he replaced me and he impressed with the gloves and his gloves can be undervalued far too often."
Another former Australian wicketkeeper, Rod Marsh, told a cricket website Gilchrist was the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman and warned "whoever replaces him will have enormous shoes to fill".
England batsman Paul Collingwood admitted a little relief at the news and said every team wanted a player like Gilchrist, while South African fast bowler Shaun Pollock said he was a true all-rounder.
"He was a fantastic player and a great opponent," Pollock, who received a call from Gilchrist after announcing his own retirement recently, told Reuters.
"You didn't feel comfortable until you got him out."
Former Australian coach John Buchanan, with whom Gilchrist enjoyed a close working relationship, said he was an all-time great.
He added: "Greats of the game are measured, and Gilly will be measured as one of ours that actually set new standards and new benchmarks."
Sourav Ganguly, who was part of the Indian team at the Adelaide Oval that applauded Gilchrist as he made what is likely to be his last Test appearance Sunday, said he had enormous respect for the Australian.
"I think he must be the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman ever," he told a cricket website, calling him "a very, very dangerous player to be up against".
He added: "He's a great person too."
Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd joked that he had spoken to Gilchrist by phone before play resumed on Sunday and tried to talk him out of his decision.
"As his prime minister (I) said, 'Gilly you need to reconsider,' and he told me he wasn't," Rudd said.
"Anyone who can reach an average of nearly 50 and have the world record when it comes to catches as a 'keeper -- this is an outstanding talent.
"He's a first-class human being and a great loss to Australian cricket."