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Adam Gilchrist entered the international cricketing scene as a wicket keeper/batsman with the Australian One Day International side in 1996/97. In 1998, Steve Waugh elevated Adam to the pivotal position of opening batsman. In his second game, Adam scored 100 against South Africa and since then, has played a significant part in redefining the role of an opening batsman in One Day Internationals.
Adam was crucial in the team's winning performance in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. Adam has taken a world record 300+ dismissals in one day internationals and scored over 6000 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of 93 runs per 100 balls faced.
In November 1999, Adam replaced Ian Healy as wicketkeeper in the Australian test side. Since that time, Adam has taken over 200 dismissals in test matches and scored over 3000 runs at an incredible strike of nearly 84 runs per 100 balls faced. Adam reached the 100 and 200 dismissal milestones faster than any other wicket keeper in test history and he is one of only two players to have averaged greater than 60 going through 3000 test runs.
Adam is the only wicketkeeper in Australia to have captained the Australian Test and One Day teams and is acknowledged for his leadership and outstanding contribution to the Australian team in both forms of the game.
Many critics believe that Adam is the greatest wicketkeeper/batsman to have played the game. But more than his statistics, it is the manner and spirit in which Adam plays the game that makes him one of the world's most exciting and popular cricketers.
* Information here is courtesy of AdamGilchrist.com
Going in first or seventh, wearing whites or coloureds, Adam Gilchrist is the symbolic heart of Australia’s steamrolling agenda and the most exhilarating cricketer of the modern age.
He is simultaneously a cheerful throwback to more innocent times, a flap-eared country boy who has walked when given not out in a World Cup semi-final, and swatted his second ball for six while sitting on a Test pair. "Just hit the ball," is how he once described his philosophy on batting, and he seldom strays from it.
Employing a high-on-the-handle grip, he pokes good balls into gaps and throttles all others, invariably with head straight, wrists soft and balance sublime. Only at the death does he jettison the textbook, whirling his bat like a hammer-thrower, caring only for the scoreboard and never his average. Still he manages 15 runs per innings more than any other keeper in history, at a tempo - 82 per 100 balls in Tests, 94 in one-dayers - that makes Viv Richards and Gilbert Jessop look like stick-in-the-muds.
When he recently signed a record A$2million sponsorship deal with Puma, though Cheetah might have been more apt, few people questioned his value for money. Indeed it was arguably Gilchrist’s belated Test arrival that turned the present Australian XI from powerful to overpowering. He bludgeoned 81 on debut, pouched five catches and a stumping, and has barely paused for breath since. In Tests, two Gilchrist innings rank among the most amazing by Australians: his death-defying unbeaten 149 against Pakistan at Hobart when all seemed lost, and his savage and emotional 204 not out against South Africa at Johannesburg.
In one-dayers, his 172 is one short of Mark Waugh’s Australian record and his overall number of one-day career dismissals might take decades to top. A family man and dedicated newspaper columnist, his 2003 World Cup diary - Walking To Victory - was miles superior to Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath’s meat-and-three-veg versions. As Australia’s 41st Test captain he found the extra burden tiring, and was happy for Ricky Ponting to step in.
As a wicketkeeper he lacks Rod Marsh’s acrobatics and Ian Healy’s finesse, and he probably peaked at 30 in 2002. But if he clutches few screamers he drops even fewer sitters. Eventually his jangling knees might tempt him to give up the gloves and move up the order as a specialist batsman. But tomorrow can wait.
By: Christian Ryan (June 2004)
* Information here is courtesy of CricInfo.com