Tag: Adam Gilchrist

Andrew Flintoff’s strengths as a bowler

Bit of pace, bit of bounce, good control and then there’s what the lazy among us refer to as ‘presence’; or worse, an ‘X-factor’.

The concept of an X-factor always pisses us off. It’s not that there’s some mystical, unknowable attribute. It’s just that you haven’t bothered to find out what it is.

In cricket, it’s usually something psychological and which is therefore hard to quantify. Adam Gilchrist spoke about Flintoff’s bowling this week:

“He creates an aura of control, even if you get a good shot away he has that look in his eye, and a demeanour, that suggests it is all part of a big plan.”

It’s the kind of thing Shane Warne did so well – only with Warne it was a more conscious thing. With Flintoff you suspect it’s less deliberate, or maybe we’re doing him a disservice by saying that.

Anyway, the point is, it’s not frigging magic.

Adam Gilchrist opening the batting and scoring hundreds – still

Not long now, one-day bowlers of the world... not longIt would be tempting to look on this as Adam Gilchrist‘s final international hundred, but the interminable Commonwealth Bank Series is going to provide him with a few more opportunities yet.

Australia have played Sri Lanka twice and beaten them twice now, but they still get to play two more matches against them and two more against India before the best of three finals. After that, we’ll DEFINITELY know which the best team is. Or not – England (clearly the worst team of the three) won it last year after Australia and New Zealand got bored and dozed off.

Also in this match, Lasith Malinga took some wickets and Kumar Sangakkara showed that he still loves batting against Australia unlike any of his team mates.

We’re going away for the weekend. That’s why we’ve slipped into perfunctory mode.

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.

Wicketkeepers open the batting in one-day internationals – apparently

England are always on the lookout for a wicketkeeper who can bat and particularly one who can open the batting in one-day internationals. This is because Adam Gilchrist opens the batting for Australia in one-day internationals and Australia are better than England and therefore must be copied in EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY.

No matter that Australia wanted an aggressive opener and their best wicketkeeper batsman just happened to be one. That’s not important. The important thing is that you win one-day internationals by having a wicketkeeper at the top of the order. That’s just the way it is. Knowing England’s luck, they’ll find a decent wicketkeeper-opener and Australia will change to a first-change bowler/opening batsman. Always behind the times, England.

What a player does while his side are fielding is of CRUCIAL importance when selecting your opening batsmen.

England are currently flirting with Philip Mustard.

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