Back then Gilly was creating the legend
By Jamie Brown
CRICKET just won’t be the same for Lismore’s Jakeb Speers, now his mentor and former batting partner is retiring from the game.
Jakeb, 15, a kacky-handed batsman for Southern Districts, once teamed up with legendary left-hander Adam Gilchrist as opening bat.
And he reckons the cricketer’s talent was a rare one.
The occasion was the official opening of Rous Water’s Perradenya Estate at Caniaba, and the memory of that warm day in July, 2000, has stuck with him ever since – the heavy bat which was so hard to lift, the signed cap by the Test sensation, and the fact that ‘Gilly’ hogged the strike!
Back then, so early in his Test career, Gilchrist was an inspiration to the hundreds of young fans who turned out to see their hero up close and personal.
And he still is, despite announcing that he is leaving the game at the peak of his career.
“He goes out there and has a hit,” noted Jakeb. “That’s what everyone likes.
“He’s just a hero ... all of the time.”
Lennox Head university student Craig Somerville also met Gilchrist that day at Perradenya, in his capacity as an 11-year-old spin bowler for the Lennox Stingrays.
On the day he sent down one of his best medium-pace balls and evaded Gilly’s defence to leave the stumps spreadeagled.
His effort earned him a handshake from the sporting great and an autographed ball.
“The game of cricket is forever changed thanks to Adam Gilchrist,” Craig said.
“No longer will Australia be looking for just wicketkeepers.
“They will want a wicketkeeper who can bat, or bring something else to the game.”
Retired Lismore soccer coach Brian Harding also enjoyed his time with the multitalented sportsman, as coach of the under-14 representative side some 24 years ago.
Brian, who originally hails from Inverell, the same town as the Gilchrist family, recalls the teenage Adam as a natural sportsman and a real team player who would have excelled in any discipline.
“He was a beautiful soccer player,” he said.
“He was good with his feet, and good with his mouth too. He was always shouting words of encouragement to his team-mates.”