One of the finest champions of the invincible Australian side in the early 2000s, Adam Gilchrist was a rare talent. He was probably one of the first wicketkeepers of his time to be considered as a genuine all-rounder and throughout his career left such an indelible mark in the game that his name now will proudly remain etched in the annals of cricket history forever. The left-handed batsman had destroyed several bowling attacks on his day and played a vital part in Australia’s surge as the best team of that era.
As an ODI opener, Gilchrist was savage, brutal and effective. As a Test batsman, he was probably one of the most dangerous batsmen coming in at No. 7 – he could simply bludgeon any attack into submission and take the game away in the matter of a session. As a wicketkeeper, too, Gilchrist was impeccable and kept to the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne with much virtuoso.
Born in New South Wales on the November 14, 1971, Adam Gilchrist celebrates his 46th birthday today. On this special day, let us relive this great Australian superstar’s finest performances in international cricket.
204* v South Africa at Johannesburg, 2002 (Test): In what would turn out to be his highest ever Test score, Gilchrist played a rampaging knock that destroyed the opposition completely. In the first Test of Australia’s tour to South Africa in 2002 at Johannesburg, the visitors chose to bat first. At 293-5, and with the likes of Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini and Jaques Kallis going great guns, Australia had their task cut out. But then in walked Adam Gilchrist and within the course of his knock took the game away from the home team. He cut and pulled ferociously and anything that was remotely short was repeatedly bludgeoned away. The wicketkeeper-batsman formed a solid 317-run stand for the sixth wicket with Damien Martyn (133) and went on to score his first and only international double hundred. Gilchrist remained unbeaten on a blistering 204 off 219 balls with 19 fours and 8 sixes. This effort ensured that Australia posted a mammoth 652-7 (decl.) and won the match by an innings and 360 runs.
149* v Pakistan at Hobart, 1999 (Test): Playing in only his second Test match, Gilchrist displayed why he was such a dangerous batsman across all formats as he formed an incredible match-winning knock under extreme pressure. In the second Test of the series against the visiting Pakistani side, Australia were in doldrums at 126-5 while chasing a target of 369. When Gilchrist came in, the situation was intense and the Pakistani quicks – Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar – were spewing venom. However, Gilchrist fought fire with fire and took the attack to the opposition. The barrage of short balls was effortlessly dispatched to the boundary and the length ones were savagely cut and pulled. Gilchrist stitched an all-important 238-run partnership with Justin Langer (127) and that effort took the game away from Pakistan’s grasp. The left-hander remained unbeaten on a sensational 149 off 163 balls with 13 fours and a six and helped Australia achieve a memorable 6-wicket win.
102* v England at Perth, 2006 (Test): Although Gilchrist has quite a few special Ashes knock to his name, this one simply cannot be ignored because of its sheer savagery. After being bowled out for just 244 after batting first in the 3rd Ashes Test of 2006 at Perth, Australia earned a vital 29-run lead by restricting England for 215. The home team then needed a good second innings score to put pressure on the opposition and though many of the batsmen had a very good outing, it was Gilchrist’s whirlwind hundred that knocked the stuffing out of England. He was absolutely brutal and tore into the English bowlers with disdain. While Michael Clarke (135*) at the other end played briskly, Gilchrist was relentless in his assault and reached his century off just 57 balls – then the second fastest hundred in Test history and still remains the fastest ever Test hundred by an Australian. Gilchrist remained unbeaten on a spectacular 103 off 59 balls with 12 fours and 4 sixes. The knock helped Australia post a massive 527-4 (decl.) and then win the match by 206 runs. Gilchrist’s breathtaking performance, however, was one that would be remembered for a lifetime.
149 v Sri Lanka at Bridgetown, ICC 2007 World Cup Final (ODI): This one is perhaps the most significant ODI knock of Gilchrist’s career. In the rain-curtailed final of the ICC ODI World Cup 2007 at Bridgetown, between Australia and Sri Lanka, the men in yellow were looking to retain the trophy for the third time in a row. The match was reduced to 36 overs a side and batting first, Australia needed to post a big score on the board. It was opener Adam Gilchrist who took the initiative by spanking the Sri Lankan seamers straightway. He took Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga to task and completely upset their rhythms by dispatching them down the ground and to the deep. No matter what combination the Sri Lankans tried, Gilchrist kept flogging the bowlers and was simply unstoppable. The wicket at the Kensington Oval wasn’t a batting paradise but Gilchrist kept clearing the boundary with ease. By the time he was dismissed, Gilchrist had inflicted serious damage and scored a scintillating 149 runs off just 104 balls with 13 fours and 8 sixes – one of the finest performances in a World Cup final. Australia went on to score 281-4 in their 36 overs and won the final by 53 runs (via D/L).
103 v ICC World XI at Melbourne, 2005 (ODI): A rarely recalled Gilchrist gem, this knock came against a side that boasted of bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori and Jaques Kallis. And yet, in the second ODI between Australia and ICC’S World XI at Melbourne in 2005, Adam Gilchrist bulldozed past these great bowlers with relative ease. It was a good wicket to bat on and after Australia chose to bat first, Gilchrist displayed his best strokes against the finest bowlers of the world. It was a sparkling performance as Gilchrist littered every part of the Melbourne cricket ground with his crunching strokes. He was especially severe on Akhtar and Flintoff and the faster they bowled, the more they were punished. Gilchrist perished on a splendid 103 off just 79 balls with 8 fours and 4 sixes. The knock allowed Australia to post a formidable 328-4 and win the match by 55 runs.