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Adam Craig Gilchrist was born on the 14th of November 1971 in Bellingen New South Wales, and went to Deniliquin Primary School. He wanted to be the world’s fastest bowler, until he saw a pair of shiney wicketkeeping gloves on the shelf of a Shepparton shop in country Victoria. Stan and June Gilchrist, realising how fascinated the youngest of their four children was with the gloves, later returned and bought them. It was Adam’s Christmas present that year, 1981, and it was the start of his wicketkeeper career, which will have taken him to South Africa, England, New Zealand, India, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and the West Indies as his career goes by. Within two years, Adam and his young mates from Deniliquin Primary School had created history, becoming the first country team to win the Taber Shield (a knockout competition for primary schools in New South Wales). Adam was the wicketkeeper, opening batsman, and captain of the team. “He would’ve opened the bowling if he could’ve. He wanted to be in everything.” Stan said of his son. “Adam wanted to be the fastest bowler in the world before he spotted those gloves. Then he wanted to be Rod Marsh - there and then. In 1984, secondary school-teacher Stan was on the move again. This time it was from Deniliquin, in the bottom of New South Wales, to Lismore at the top of the state. Leg-spinner Stan became captain of the local cricket team. Adam 13, cut his teeth in the cricket arena with his siblings, Jacki, Dean, and Glenn, and was promoted to first grade following impressive performances with bat and gloves. “It’s hard to judge on country tracks but I thought he could make a good keeper. He could take me no worries,” Stan said.
In 1989, when captaining Kadina High school in Lismore – and dating current wife and classmate Melinda Sharpe – Gilchrist won a scholarship to play with the Richmond club in London. He did his last year by correspondence. “Adam passed, but not as well as he should have,” Stan said. “The studies were secondary to his sport and he was playing cricket six days a week for six months.” When he returned home, the Gordon club in Sydney contracted Gilchrist. Gordon wanted Adam as backup for Phil Emery, who was often away with state duties. And that’s the direction Gilchrist wanted to go. He later moved to Northern Districts, where he took over from present-day Tasmanian keeper Mark Atkinson. Gilchrist and Emery became good mates, with Adam inquiring Phil how long he intended keeping stumps for the state. “Another three seasons,” Emery told Gilchrist. “If you think you can make it elsewhere, you go for it,” Emery added.
Before Phil Emery announced his retirement earlier this year, he rang Adam to tell him. By then Gilchrist was ready to take over the gloves in the Australian test side, so impressive had he been since moving west for the 1994-95 season. At that time, the Perth cricket club was coached by Mark O’Neill, a former state cricketer with New South Wales and West Australia, and son of former test cricket Norm O’Neill. Mark played with Adam at Gordon. He knew the person and the player and where he wanted to go. “Get Gilchrist,” was O’Neill’s recommendation to Perth. Adam took over from Tim Zoehrer as the West Australian keeper. The loyal Western Australian crowds hated the decision, and unfortunately, the young Gilchrist copped some heavy flack whenever the Warriors came out on their home turf on the WACA. Nevertheless, Gilchrist was a success. As time went by, he entrenched his spot in the Warriors’ ranks. He made the record for the most dismissals by a keeper for Western Australia in a shield season (54) in the 1995/96 season, won over the crowds through his keeping and commanding batting and impressed those who counted his coolness and astuteness. Thus in 1996, when a vice-captain was needed, it was Gilchrist who was chosen, and when he had to fill the captaincy role, he made a huge impression.
In 1996, Adam was called upon to cover for the injured Ian Healy in an One-Day International tri-series tournament on the sub-continent for Australia. He had already played for Australia at Under 19, Young Australia levels, and earlier in 1996 appeared for Australia A. Gilchrist, like others, expressed surprise at his selection for Australia, as there were others with more experience that the selectors overlooked. He was then earmarked as Australia’s next keeper, and when the occasion next came to cover for Healy (this time due to Healy being suspended early in 1997), Gilchrist was again called upon. His career shot upwards from there.
Midway through 1997, the Australian selectors restructured the One Day team to model it with versatile all-rounders and big-hitters. Healy, although a fine servant of the One-Day game, was amongst a band of players designated as ‘Test only’ cricketers and dropped from the One-Day side. Gilchrist big hitting was what the Australian selectors were looking for, and he got the nod. The opportunity also served as a taste of the international arena and keep Healy for Test duties (It was apparent that Gilchrist wasn’t yet ready for Test matches). But it meant Gilchrist had to cover old ground, as Healy’s dumping was massively unpopular. Healy was a beloved player and Gilchrist found himself again having to win over crowds, just as he did in WA a few years earlier.
Gilchrist first game in Australia was against South Africa in December 1997 for the 1997-98 World Series in Sydney at the SCG. He was booed – it would take time for him to prove his wealth. At first, it looked as if he would need plenty of time, and scores of 4, 29,29*(not out), 11*, 21, 28, 6, and 20, batting down the order at six and seven, indicated the battle would be long. Then Steve Waugh put Adam in to open the batting for the First Final against South Africa. He made a solid 20. Then in the second final, he was given another chance. It was on Australia Day 1998 at the SCG. He made 100 off only 104 balls, this being his first century in One Day Internationals. Since then, he has opened the batting with Mark Waugh, and they have been regarded as one of the most deadliest opening partnerships going around, and are the fifth most successful ever in One-Day International cricket (on average). Then on February 7th, Adam made a record breaking 154 off only 129 balls against Sri Lanka at the MCG. It was the highest score ever by an Australian player and wicketkeeper in One Day Internationals. Then later that year, he was part of the Australian World Cup winning side in England. He was also part of the team that made a record for playing the most number of games unbeaten in One Day International Cricket.
* Information here courtesy of http://www.angelfire.com/mi/Gilly/