November 14, 2009

B.B.O.T.D - Adam Gilchrist

Nov 14th widely celebrated as Children’s day across India. But, in 1971 in a small town on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia this was the day when Adam Craig Gilchrist was born. Who knew this boy from Bellingen, was slated to redefine the way modern day cricket is played. Adam Gilchrist famously known as Gilly made his first class debut for his home state of New South Wales but, due to lack of opportunities in the dominant New South Wales outfit, Gilchrist joined Western Australia in 93-94. Gilchrist made his ODI debut for Australia in 1996, at that time the selectors preferred to go with Healy for the Tests and Gilly for the ODI’s. This was the reason, why Gilly had to wait upto 1999 to make his test debut for Australia.

Gilchrist along with his opening partner Mathew Hayden were the new face of the aggressive Australian team that built under the captaincy of Steve Waugh. Together they changed the way modern cricket is played. The first 15 overs that had mandatory field restrictions was when these two hard-hitting, fearless batsmen would strike the ball the farthest distances and breach the longest boundaries by the swing of their rists. The dominant Aussie force only grew bolder, stronger in years to come. They have won three World cups in a row, a record no team has managed to equal till date. They have won every major trophy barring the T20 world cup, which has seen just the two editions, and the time when the fearless Aussie side had lost some of the best known players who played the game, like Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Gilly, Matyn, Bevan, Langer..

Being part in a side so aggressive in nature and who played attacking cricket right through whether it was batting, bowling or fielding, it was never going to be easy for Gilchrist to fill in the boots of Ian Healy, regarded as many as the finest glovesman in the world. Gilchrist soon broke records not just batting but also with respect to wicket keeping. He is the most successful wicket keeper in ODI’s, with 453 dismissals to his name. Only Mark Boucher of South Africa is potentially near that figure.

Apart from the aggression and attacking style of play, Gilchrist was regarded as a true gentleman who served the game. He was one of the few cricketers around the world who would walk regardless of the umpire’s call. This drew a lot of attention and criticism, Gilchrist said in his autobiography that he had "zero support in the team" for his stance and he “felt isolated" and "silently accused of betraying the team. Implictly I was made to feel selfish, as if I was walking for the sake of my own clean image, thereby making everyone else look dishonest." Nevertheless Gilchrist is sure to be remembered as one the greats to have played the game and change the way we look at cricket as a sport.

Gilchrist was selected as the captain of Australia very occasionally, mainly as a stand-by. He held a decent record as a captain, in tests he played just 6 as captain winning 4, losing 1 and a drawn test. In the second season of the IPL Gilly was installed as the captain in place of V.V.S. Laxmam. The team under him began very well, winning four in four bu,t only merely managed to fit into the top four winning just 3 in the remaning 10 games. From the semis it was a pure Adam Gilchrist treat. He ripped apart the Delhi Daredevils in the semi-finals, and won the IPL in style against the Royal Challengers of Bangalore. Gilchrist was fittingly given the man of the tournament honour.

His after-effect in the game is such that, despite his retirement he is considered the finest in the game today. Australia, since his departure from international cricket have struggled to find a suitable replacement. Cos, its not going to be easy to replace the likes of Ian Healy or Adam Gilchrist over-night. This article is a tribute to the legend who, transformed the modern game and is loved by millions across the world. Yes, Gilchrist you are the Birthday Bum of the day. Wishing you a very happy and joyous life ahead.

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