It is a truth universally acknowledged that left-handed batsmen are gifted and are exquisite to watch. Be it Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sir Garry Sobers, Allan Border, Saeed Anwar… the list is endless. Talk about a left-handed batsman who could keep wickets, open the batting and score runs at a fast pace, one name that comes to mind instantly is Adam Gilchrist. The former cricketer represented Australia from 1996-2008 and is regarded as one of the greatest wicket-keepers cricket has ever seen. As Gilchrist turns 45 today, here’s a tribute to the living legend.
While Gilchrist has many records to his name, his ability to perform in the finals of a big tournament has helped him achieve a unique record against his name. Having played 3 consecutive World Cup finals (1999, 2003 and 2007), Gilchrist is the only batsmen who has scored more than 50 runs on all the three occasions.
In the 1999 World Cup, Gilchrist had scored just 170 runs in 9 innings before the finals. With an average of 18.8, Gilchrist’s scores were 6 (Scotland), 14 (New Zealand), 0 (Pakistan), 63 (Bangladesh), 21 (West Indies), 31 (India), 10 (Zimbabwe), 5 (South Africa), and 20 (South Africa). In the all crucial finals, Australia were chasing 133 and Gilchrist’s 54 from just 36 balls made the game a mere formality for Pakistan.
In 2003, Gilchrist’s performance before the finals was much better than what it was in the last tournament. He scored 351 runs in 9 matches at an average of 39. His scores up to the finals were 1 (Pakistan), 48 (India), 61 (Zimbabwe), 13 (Namibia), 22 (England), 99 (Sri Lanka), 18 (New Zealand), 67 (Kenya), and 22 (Sri Lanka). In the finals against India, his innings of 57 runs from 48 balls along with Ponting’s 140 from 121 balls and Damien Martyn’s 88 from 84 balls set a mammoth target of 360 runs for India. It was Gilchrist’s innings that gave Australia the perfect start and India couldn’t recover from the initial loss.
Gilchrist saved the best for the last World Cup. In 2007, he scored 304 runs at an average of 33.77 in 10 innings. He began strongly with scores of 46 (Scotland), 57 (Netherlands), and 42 (South Africa). His performance dipped in the later half of the tournament as he scored 7 (West Indies), 59* (Bangladesh), 27 (England), 34 (Ireland), 30 (Sri Lanka), 1 (New Zealand) and 1 (South Africa). In a rain affected finals, Australia won the toss and chose to bat. Adam Gilchrist did the rest with his score of 149 from just 104 balls. Australia posted 281 in 38 overs and Sri Lanka had to chase 269 in 36 overs. Gilchrist single-handedly made it impossible for Sri Lanka to be the champions.
WATCH: Adam Gilchrist’s innings against India in the 2003 World Cup finals
(Video Courtesy: YouTube.com/Shamaz Ali)
In his career, Gilchrist has played 96 Tests and scored 557o runs at an average of 47.60. He has 17 centuries and 26 half-centuries to his name with a highest score of 204 not out against South Africa. With 416 (379 catches, 37 stumpings) dismissals and a healthy average of 45+ from someone who bats at number seven, which captain wouldn’t want a keeper/batsman like that in his team?
In ODIs, Gilchrist opened the innings as he could change the complexion of any match with his aggressive gameplay. With his ability to smash the ball all around the park, getting Gilchrist out early and not let Australia dominate was the gameplan for most oppositions. In 287 games, he scored 9619 runs at an average of 35.89. He has 16 centuries, 55 half-centuries and a highest score of 172 against Zimbabwe to his name. Gilchrist has the second most number of dismissals in ODIs with 417 catches and 55 stumpings (472). Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka holds the record with 482 dismissals (383 catches, 99 stumpings) in 404 matches.
- (Cover Video Courtesy: YouTube.com/Hbkpalmer)