He knew when to walk
By Steve Spinks
ADAM Gilchrist always knew when to walk.
From the moment he sensationally walked after being caught in the semi-final of the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa against Sri Lanka to his surprising retirement on Australia Day, Gilchrist always had a happy knack of sensing when it was time to go.
He’d simply shrug his shoulders, smile and walk.
In South Africa when he walked, he provoked debate about the subtleties of a bygone era of cricket.
When he announced his retirement on Saturday, he provoked another debate.
This time it was about his standing among Australia’s cricketers.
Most agree he’s one of this country’s best, or at the very least the best wicketkeeper-batsman the game has seen.
His outright dominance as a batsman is what most will remember him for, be it in the Test arena or in the one-day game.
But his form in recent seasons has not been what it was.
Gilchrist was still capable of an innings of utter destruction, but they were coming less often, and his wicketkeeping was not as crisp as it once was.
He knew it was time to walk.
He did it with a shrug and a smile.
Gilchrist’s career is like an extended highlights package.
He was part of three World Cup winning teams; part of two sides that won world record 16 straight Test victories; he picked up a record 414 ’keeping dismissals; he has hit the second-fastest century in Test cricket history (58 balls); not to mention managing to average of 47.89 with the bat in 96 Tests.
But what made him so special?
Some say it was his high hand grip with gave him extraordinary power while batting.
Some say it was his good eye.
His father Stan Gilchrist is unsure.
“I thought I would have four Test players when the kids were born,” Stan chuckled from Adelaide where the family is watching Gilchrist’s last Test match.
“It’s wonderful what he’s done, but I don’t know.
“I think sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time.
“He had a bit of extra focus, tunnel vision and that confidence in himself.
“Technically Adam’s not perfect – in fact my other son Dean had better technique – but just a whole lot of things came together.”
The family is hoping for a gathering of the clans in Adelaide on Tuesday to celebrate Gilchrist’s career.
“It’s not all over yet,” laughed Stan.
“There’s still a few one-dayers to watch.”
Stan’s favourite highlights of his son’s career include the 58-ball hundred in Perth, watching Adam hit his 100th six in Test cricket in Hobart and watching the 36-year-old save Australia when batting low in the order.
“But I also liked the way he played cricket,” Stan said.
“Sometimes he would be the only person clapping if the opposition got a hundred. Also I liked the way he did stuff off the field which is just as important, I think.”
Gilchrist’s dismissal yesterday in the Fourth Test against India for 14 was typical.
He struck out and was gone with a shrug and a smile.
An abiding memory of a great player.