Adam Gilchrist’s career

Adam Gilchrist did a bit of this as wellAustralia were the best side in the world before Adam Gilchrist was promoted to the Test side. Afterwards, they took on an air of invincibility.

How can a side take the fifth Australian wicket and be faced with a batsman who middles the ball with his first stroke, throws the kitchen sink at everything and averages 50? It was totally unfair and lifted Australia into a hitherto unimagined plane. Gilchrist was a great wicketkeeper, but it was quite frankly freakish that he could bat the way he did on top of that.

Of batsmen who’ve hit more than 1,000 Test runs, only you-know-who has a higher strike-rate per 100 balls than Adam Gilchrist’s 81.95 and essentially that means that nobody in their right mind has ever scored faster.

But consistently as well. The bowlers are tired. It’s been a slog. They do not want to see Adam Gilchrist gripping the very end of his bat handle with narrow-eyed, sadistic intent.

Essentially Adam Gilchrist innings came in two forms. There was the turn-it-around-in-an-hour rearguard on the rare occasions when things weren’t going totally Australia’s way, but more fearsome than that was the remove-any-hint-of-doubt, pile-on-the-misery, kick-’em-when-they’re-down, rapidfire hundred that made tired bowlers exhausted and exhausted bowlers suicidal.

The former would be exemplified by the Christchurch Test of 2005. Australia were 160-5 in their first innings after New Zealand had made 433. Gilchrist scorched his way to 121 off 126 balls, Australia got within a single run of New Zealand’s score and the frazzled Kiwis were bowled out for 131 in their second innings. It was a hundred measured in wickets as well as runs.

The second kind first came to our attention during his first innings against England – the first Test of the 2001 Ashes. England were bowled out for 294 and Australia sauntered to 336-5. It was bad, but the match and series suddenly became a lot longer and more miserable at that point, because Gilchrist did his thing.

Adam Gilchrist patiently plays himself in152 off 143 balls did more than just drive home Australia’s advantage. It totally dispirited a nation. The English were already prone to elevating the Australians to the status of demigods at this time, but now they had to find a higher pedestal. How could their number seven batsman do this to England’s finest?

‘Psychological hold’ is such a limp, hackneyed expression, but when a sportsman thinks even his best isn’t good enough then his performance drops further. But that’s the nature of competition: if you can impose yourself on your opponent to such an extent that their standards drop, then that’s worth even more than your own, personal contribution.

That’s what Adam Gilchrist did so well. His contribution goes beyond the statistics. And consider this: his statistics are phenomenal. 5,570 runs, 17 hundreds and an average of 47.6, as well as 379 catches and 37 stumpings.

Those statistics have deteriorated as well. Since the start of the 2005 Ashes, Gilchrist has averaged just 30.21. Prior to that he’d been averaging 55.65.

55.65! He’s a sodding wicketkeeper and he bats at seven! We’re all used to it now, but that really is outrageous.

Of course even that period of relative mediocrity contained the odd gem, like the second-fastest Test hundred of all time – the archetypal Gilchrist innings. Monty Panesar had been finding Test cricket rather easy up until then. That rather comprehensively put him straight and no mistake.

We haven’t even mentioned one-day cricket, where he won the World Cup with the grandest big occasion hundred imaginable and somehow convinced the selectors of the world that wicketkeepers had to open the batting without their even questioning why this might be the right thing to do or not.

It’s a big loss for everyone.

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17 Appeals

  1. King Cricket,
    Excellent write! Been piling on the Gilli reads all evening, and this was right up there!
    “It was a hundred measured in wickets as also runs” – boy, that sure sums up Gilli’s impact in no uncertain terms.

  2. “They do not want to see Adam Gilchrist gripping the very end of his bat handle with narrow-eyed, sadistic intent.”

    Don’t forget his Squash Ball Of Doom. Damn that Squash Ball Of Doom.

  3. King Cricket

    January 28, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Mahinda: Turned out it was only a Squash Ball Of World Cup Final Doom, but that’s probably not a bad squash ball to have.

    Naked Cricket: Thanks. And you’re a great pastime, by the way.

  4. the scientician

    January 28, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    “They do not want to see Adam Gilchrist gripping the very end of his bat handle with narrow-eyed, sadistic intent.”

    … that’s what she said.

    (I’ve started this, so I’m going to push on with more and more tenuously linked sentences)

  5. “I’m going to push on with more and more”

    That’s what she said.

    Sorry., Kingcricket.

  6. Irreplaceable. Brad Haddin’s good, but there’s only one Adam Gilchrist.

  7. Now that Gilchrist is gone, the Aussies need our support more than ever. The last matches haven’t been the best; the Indian chapter has been really controversial. Losing the last world cup to the Brits… we need to get behind our Team.
    I came across this way of winning tickets to the West Indies and follow the Aussies in their April match. Check it out…http://www.aamicaribbeancricket.com/ It sounds mad, I hope I can be there!

  8. Brilliantly written, good work.

  9. you captured the essence brilliantly mate!

    i agree with thinking going around that gilly’s absence is going to hurt aussies more than the combined absence of GM and SW…

  10. Amen… excellent post

  11. “Sorry., Kingcricket.”

    That’s what she said.

    Eh? Oh.

  12. Thank you for reproducing my punctuation typo, Mahinda.

  13. Dammit Mahinda. I was actually typing that exact reply (I say typing, ctrl-c, ctrl-v had a large part in it).
    Damn you you to heck!

  14. yes, that’s right, damn you you. Both’a youse guys

  15. Shock news of yet another crippling international retirement!

    Er, Boeta Dippenaar.

  16. I didn’t want to reproduce the typo, but felt that it had to be there, for the sake of artistic integrity and whatnot. Mostly whatnot.

    Mind you, it might have had something to do with my lightning-fast Ctrl+C / Ctrl+V skillz.

    Getting back on topic for a moment, I’ll miss Gilchrist. Yes, he’s Australian. Yes, he’s caused me more pain than most international cricketers*, being able to turn joy into despair with the flash of a bat. However, he seems like a decent chap (for an Aussie), and you can’t deny his skill — he must have single-handedly destroyed the careers of dozens of glovemen.

    * Top of the list is one Graeme Hick. Kallis doesn’t cause me pain so much as anger.

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