Adam Gilchrist must be one of the most fearless cricketers of all time. It is all very well swinging the bat seemingly without a care in the world at the county or state level. It is quite another to do so when a Test match or even a one-day international hangs in the balance. But all games appeared to come the same to Gilchrist. He was a naturally aggressive left-hand batsman, widely regarded greatest wicket-keeper batsman in the history of cricket.
Adam Craig Gilchrist is born on 14 November 1971 at Bellingen in New South Wales, Australia. And he played in a very strong Australian team. Although it is true, and one that was often expected to win with something to spare. But Gilchrist played the same for every team he represented, and in all situations.
If he had an advantage, it was in not starting his Test career until a relatively late stage. He made his first-class debut in 1992 and perform consistently till 1996. Eventually, Gilchrist debut ODI in India in 1996 and then a few days short of his 28th birthday when he finally got his chance, having been kept waiting for his opportunity by Ian Healy, a fine keeper and capable enough batsman to average 27 in Tests.
He made his Test debut against Pakistan at Brisbane Gabba scored 81 off 88 balls before being bowled by Shoaib Akhtar and in his second retrieved a dire situation in spectacular fashion. Gilchrist had spent three years in Australia’s one-day team and already made a considerable mark as a destructive opening batsman with several hundred to his name.
He thus arrived conscious that there might be few second chances but also experienced enough to know his own game. Australia, set 369 to win against powerful Pakistan bowling attack, were apparently heading for defeat to Pakistan in Hobart when Gilchrist joined Justin Langer at 126 for five seems almost lost. Gilchrist showed a real class to smash Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akthar, Azhar Mehmood, and Saqlain Mushtaq.
Cool as you like, the two of them all but took their side home, Justin Langer falling with five runs still needed. Gilchrist finished unbeaten on 149. Quite a few of Gilchrist’s best innings came when Australia was in difficulties rather than when they already had a big score on the board by the time, he strolled out at number 7. Adam Gilchrist said; he enjoyed it more when they were in trouble because it gave him something to work with. Not that he could not drive home good positions either.
When he went in at Johannesburg in 2002 against South Africa when Australia wasn’t a difficulty at 293 for five he proceeded to smash what was then the fastest Test double century on record. Gilchrist smashed 204 runs off 213 balls including 8 towering sixes and 19 rolling shots over the boundary.
Australia won the match innings and 360 runs. Further, in the next match at Cape Town, he took South African bowling to knee scoring another hundred 138 runs off 108 balls in just 172 mins including 22 fours and 2 sixes. Australia owed its strength to many things, but Gilchrist’s presence was surely a crucial factor in their dominance around the turn of the century.
Australia won an astonishing 73 of the 96 Tests he played between 1999 and 2008 and lost only 11. One of those defeats came when Gilchrist himself, acting as stand-in captain for the injured Steve Waugh, made a rather too adventurous declaration at Headingly in 2001. In this Ashes series, Gilchrist was again top of his game, scoring 340 runs at 68 including 26 dismissals, and Australian won the Ashes 4-1.
Adam Gilchrist finished on the winning side in each of his first 15 Tests. He also played in three winning World Cup finals in 1999, 2003, and 2007. Gilchrist contributed runs on each occasion, most dazzlingly at Barbados in 2007 when in a game reduced to 38 overs aside, he rattled up 149 off 104 deliveries against Sri Lanka. Some of his knocks were just unbelievable and still in people’s minds.
The record of this lean, slightly built left-hander was remarkable and leaves him towering above all other international keeper-batsmen. In Tests, he hit 17 hundred and averaged 47.60, highly impressive figures when it is borne in mind what a toll hour spent behind the stumps takes on mind and body. Most remarkable though was his strike rate of 81.95, which places him second only to Virender Sehwag.
In 2007, he was a member of the Australian team that took part in the first-ever T20I world cup in South Africa. In this tournament, he scored 169 runs at 33.80 as the Aussies were knockdown by India in the Semis. He was also the first batsman to hit 100 sixes in Tests. Moreover, against England he scored a super-fast hundred in just 57 balls at Perth, missing Richard long time 56 balls hundred. Later, Pakistan Misbah-ul-Haq equaled in 56 balls and then broken by Brendon McCullum.
He hit 16 hundred in one-dyers, in which his strike rate of 96.94 again puts him second only to Sehwag among bona fide batsmen. In that format, he stands tenth on the six-hitting list with 149. Needless to say! Adam Gilchrist was a big success when he joined the first wave of players recruited to the Indian Premier League in 2008.
Among Test keepers whose careers are complete, only Andy Flower, who averaged 53.70 but batted in far less explosive fashion, can approach his record. Matt Prior, Les Ames, and Kumar Sangakkara are among the few to even average more than 40. It has been the fate of every international keeper since to be measured against him. Every team searches not just for a competent glove-man but a cricketer who can also bat and score regular hundreds.
Gilchrist set the mark and others strive to meet it as best they can. In fact, several keepers have done very well without quite adhering to the Gilchrist blueprint of reliable runs delivered with all-out aggression – Matt Prior for England, MS Dhoni for India, Kumar Sangakkara for Sri Lanka and Brad Haddin for Australia have all had their moments, while AB de Villiers maintained his batting form amazingly well after temporarily taking over the gloves from Mark Boucher in 2012.
But the greats do it time and time again and that is what sets Gilchrist apart. Gilchrist played his early cricket in New South Wales but with the state already having an established keeper he moved to Western Australia in his early 20s. There, like many batsmen brought up on the hard surfaces in Perth, he developed into a strong cutter and puller of fast bowling.
The one team against whom his record was iffy was India, whose spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh managed to keep him largely, if not totally, in check. A few fast bowlers, notably Andrew Flintoff bowling at his absolute best in the 2005 Ashes, managed to deny him the room to free his arms by coming around the wicket at him and firing the ball into his body, but it was a plan requiring perfect execution.
In the next Ashes series, in Australia in 2006–07, Gilchrist exacted brutal revenge, splattering the English bowling to all parts of Perth in what was then the second-fastest Test century of all time. Gilchrist also developed into a considerable keeper. He had to keep to Shane Warne a lot, so in common with a lot of keepers of the modern era, like Ian Healy and Alec Stewart, he improved himself enormously through necessity, exposure, and hard work.
Again, he had the advantage of working for the most part with one of the most formidable bowling attacks in history, but in the main, his standards were very high. When he retired, he had a record 416 Test dismissals to his name, an impressive haul in only 96 matches. ‘Gilly’ also played the game in a good spirit and earned a reputation, very unusual in the modern game, of being a ‘walker’.
Adam Gilchrist held most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in ODI, which is being broken by Kumar Sangakkara in 2015. As an Australian captain, in the six Test matches, four were won, one lost, and one draw. In 17 ODI’s 12 won, 4 lost, and one was ended without being a ball bowled. In two T201, he won one match and lost one.
Adam Gilchrist was a regular team member who was rarely available for domestic matches from 1999 to 2005. Hence, he could not have enough time to play for his state. He made only seven first-class appearances for his local state. Adam Gilchrist retired from test cricket in March 2008, but he keeps on playing domestic cricket until 2013.
He appeared in six IPL seasons, three for Deccan Chargers, and three for King XI Punjab. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2002 and following year awarded the Australian Allan Border Medal. Gilchrist left an unbelievable mark on the whole cricketing world. In 2013, he was included in the prestigious ICC Hall of Fame.
Some of Adam Gilchrist’s best performances in different versions are.
Test Cricket – 204* vs South Africa at Johannesburg in 2003
ODI Cricket – 172 vs Zimbabwe at Hobart in 2004
T201 Cricket – 48 vs England at Sydney in 2007
First-Class – 204* vs South Africa at Johannesburg in 2003
List-A Cricket – 172 vs Zimbabwe at Hobart in 2004
T20 Cricket – 109* Mumbai Indians vs Deccan Charges in 2008
He was famous for walking batsman, on numerous occasions he walked even umpires given Not out. Gilly reignites the debate during a high-pressure match against Sri Lanka in the semis of the 2003 world cup after the umpire ruled him not out, but he walked straightforwardly. Even in Bangladesh, he walked when the TV umpire didn’t find any contact between bat and pad, but he walked. The integrity of the game was so close to him.