ADAM-GILCHRIST

Adam Craig Gilchrist, born November 14, 1971, is a former Australian cricketer who is widely regarded as the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket history. Born in Bellingen, New South Wales, Gilchrist began his career with his birth state and later moved to Western Australia, before graduating to higher ranks and ending up as a legend. Any all-time World XI side will look incomplete without his name. On his birthday, Suvajit Mustafi looks at 18 facts about the champion entertainer.

1. “Gilly” and “Church”: Gilchrist is nicknamed either ‘Gilly’ or ‘Church’ (or sometimes its variation ‘Churchy’). While ‘Gilly’ comes from his surname, the ‘Churchy’ originates from the fact he is a disciplined and religious Christian who attends Church quite often.

2. School captain to legend: By the time he was 13, Gilchrist’s parents moved to Lismore, and he was soon leading the Kadina High School cricket team. He soon graduated to higher levels. Later in his career, he also made a mark as a captain, both in international cricket and also Indian Premier League (IPL).

3. First-Class debut: Gilchrist made his First-Class debut for New South Wales, against Tasmania at SCG in January 1993. Gilchrist wasn’t keeping wickets and was out for 16. His captain and teammate in years to come, Ricky Ponting, scored 125 in that match. A few days later, at the same venue and against the same opposition, he made his List A debut and co-incidentally scored 16 again.

Due to lack of opportunities in a strong NSW side, Gilchrist moved to Western Australia in the 1994-95 season. He once again faced Tasmania in his first match for WA. Ponting scored a double ton this time and all Gilchrist scored was a duck.

4. Making a mark in international cricket: Gilchrist made his debut in the Titan Cup that was played in India in 1996. Against South Africa, at Faridabad, he scored 18. However, he made a mark a few months later when he scored a match-winning 77 against South Africa at Durban.

5. Incredible World Cup record: Gilchrist has played in three World Cups for Australia, and each time the side has won the tournament. He has played in 31 World Cup games, and scored 1,085 runs at 36.16. What’s impressive is his strike-rate of 98.01. He had a knack of raising his game in the final of the tournament as well. In the 1999 final, against Pakistan, Gilchrist scored 54 from 36 balls. In the 2003 final against India, he scored 57 from 48. While looking out of sorts throughout the 2007 edition, he belted 149 off 104 against Sri Lanka in the final to take the game away.

6. The hurricane 149: Gilchrist’s 149 is the highest score in a World Cup final. He is also the only wicketkeeper to score a hundred in a World Cup knock-out match.

7. Test debut series to remember: Due to Ian Healy continuing to play Test cricket, Gilchrist could only make his Test debut in 1999. However, he immediately made an impact. In his very first Test innings at Brisbane, against a strong Pakistan side, Gilchrist belted an 88-ball 81. And in the second Test at Hobart, he scored 149 not out, helping Australia chase down 369 against a bowling attack that comprised of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq. This after Australia had lost five wickets for 126.

8. Testimony to his fitness: Gilchrist played in 96 Tests between November 5, 1999 and January 24, 2008 without missing any of them. Mind you, he kept wickets in all of those matches.

9. “c Gilchrist b McGrath”: The “c Gilchrist b McGrath” entry was a common sight to those followed cricket in the 2000s. Together, Glenn McGrath and Gilchrist affected 90 dismissals, only five behind the record Rodney Marsh-Dennis Lillee combo.

10. The “Walker”: In the World Cup 2003 semi-final match against Sri Lanka, Gilchrist decided to walk despite being given not out by the umpire. This sparked a debate but since then Gilchrist has consistently walked. There have been a lot of controversies due to this but Gilchrist maintained the discipline. In his autobiography True Colours, he wrote that he had no support on this from his teammates and further wrote, “[I was] silently accused of betraying the team. Implicitly I was made to feel selfish, as if I was walking for the sake of my own clean image, thereby making everyone else look dishonest.”

11. Australia’s greatest ODI cricketer? In November 2007, Gilchrist’s peers voted him Australia’s greatest ever cricketer.

12. Bitter relationship with Shane Warne: Gilchrist and Warne may have shared one of the greatest bowler-keeper partnerships but the duo shared a bitter relationship off the field. In his autobiography, Gilchrist wrote that Warne called him “a licker” in a domestic match in 1990s as the latter wanted his Victoria teammate Darren Berry to be Ian Healy’s successor in Test cricket. Warne and Berry had sledged him. Even off field, they didn’t agree to everything but both were key Australia’s glorious run in Test cricket.

13. Records: Gilchrist retired in 2008 with a Test batting average of 47.60 and a strike-rate touching 82. He holds many wicketkeeping records, and with 416 dismissals, he has the second most in Test cricket. Even in ODIs, he is only behind Kumar Sangakkara with 472 dismissals. Gilchrist ended his career as one of the greats of the game.

14. Love for sixes: Gilchrist is the first cricketer who has hit 100 sixes in Test cricket. Out of the active cricketers Chris Gayle has 98. Brendon McCullum earlier this year retired with 107 sixes.

15. Captaincy: Gilchrist served as Australia’s vice-captain for a long time. He was deputy to both Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. Gilchrist possessed a good cricketing brain and led Australia in six Tests, winning four of them. As a captain, he also led Deccan Chargers to an IPL title in 2009, and later captained Kings XI Punjab in IPL.

16. Awards and accolades: Apart from the hoards of Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards, Gilchrist also won Australia’s ODI player of the year in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, he also won the Allan Border medal. He has been inducted to Sport Australia’s Hall of Fame in 2012 and ICC’s Hall of Fame in 2013. He was also one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2003.

17. Charity, business and others: Gilchrist is Australia’s education ambassador to India and is also an ambassador for the charity World Vision in India. He is involved in several charity works and also happens to be Amway Australia ambassador. As a part of Nine Network, Gilchrist also commentates, especially during the Big Bash League. His reaction on Glenn Maxwell’s dismissal during one match even went viral.

18. Personal life: Gilchrist is married to his high school friend Melinda Gilchrist (née Sharpe), who is a dietician. The couple have three sons — Harrison, Archie and Ted, and a daughter, Annie Jean.