Posted by: nestaquin | March 21, 2008

Adam Gilchrist: Part Two

The Fastest DoubleAdam Gilchrist’s unique abilities altered the parameters of team selection in international cricket. No longer could a gloveman be handy with the bat and tidy behind the stumps. Now, he had to be a specialist batsman, preferably attacking, as well as a competent keeper.

Some nations are still searching for their Gilchrist and I can confidently announce that many will never find one. Gilly was exceptional, unequalled and peerless. There have been few players that can consistently win a Test match in a session. He was quite simply the Sobers, the Bradman, the Botham of his generation.

As promised today we mine the memory of mind and heart and return to Gilly’s debut Test on South African soil.

First Test v South Africa, Johannesburg 23 February, 2002

After being shellacked 3-0 by Steve Waugh’s men in Australia earlier in the southern summer, the Proteas were predictably and publicly denigrating and disrespecting the BaggyGreens from the moment they arrived in Africa.

Warne was too fat, McGrath too slow, the team too old and Gilchrist a flash-in-the-pan show pony are just a few of the tired and ridiculous statements emanating from the South African camp leading up to the First Test. Steve Waugh a man who demanded, expected and had earned respect was in no mood for nonsense. History and the scorebook show that either was Adam Gilchrist.

Coming to the wicket to join Damien Martyn ten overs before stumps on the first day, Australia were delicately poised at 293/5. With the West Australian pair playing carefully until the close of play, no-one could have predicted the carnage Gilly would inflict on the Protea’s frontline bowlers on Day two.

In the morning session, Gilchrist and Martyn played superbly and intelligently with Adam reaching his century with a boundary off Ntini in the penultimate over before the break. The lunch at the Wanderers certainly agreed with Gilly for after the break he launched into the South African attack with abandon. 190 were scored off 26 overs in the session and no South African bowler was spared.

I can remember sitting on the sofa in the wee hours willing Gilly to reach his double before tea. Martyn fell for a beautifully crafted 133 fifteen balls before the break and with Gilchrist he had compiled a sixth wicket partnership of 317, the second highest in Test history. At that point Gilly was 179 and he hit 20 off seven balls before the tea interval as an excited dressing room cheered him on.

On 199 at tea, Gilchrist wasted no time reaching his milestone when play resumed, carving the first ball Jaques Kallis delivered to the cover boundary. Steve Waugh declared at the end of the over with Australia 652/6.

At the time it was the quickest double century in Test history and perhaps the most brilliant display of sustained batting dominance by a keeper in the entire international cricketing narrative.

Gilchrist’s explosive exploits in combination with Martyn’s aesthetic support crushed the South African spirit and the match was over less than a day later. The South African’s meekly surrendered to their heaviest ever defeat by an innings and 360 runs after following-on 493 behind. After all their pre-match sledging it was a most satisfying result.

Tomorrow: Port Elizabeth 2003 – World Cup Semi Final v Sri Lanka

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Responses

  1. Martyn at one end and Gilly at the other. Beats a cigarette as a last request.


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