Posted by: nestaquin | March 23, 2008

Adam Gilchrist: Part Four

winning in IndiaIn our continuing series of articles on the illustrious career of Adam Gilchrist , we examine how he led Australia to their first series win in India for 35 years.

While Australia dominated world cricket in the late 1990’s and beyond under the astute leadership of Steve Waugh there was one nut they couldn’t crack. A series win in India.

Not since Bill Lawry’s seasoned team of 1969 had the men in baggygreen prevailed on the low, slow pitches of the colourful and emerging sub-continental republic. They went awfully close in 2001 in what was described with excessively extravagant marketing hyperbole as the greatest test series ever contested.

It was the only frontier that the team created by Alan Border, nurtured by Mark Taylor and perfected by Steve Waugh had not conquered.

In the season previous to the 2004 series the Indians had toured Australia and on the back of VVS Laxman’s heroics they had won a Test, tied the series and retained the Border/Gavaskar Trophy.

Australia desperately wanted the only trophy in world cricket that wasn’t in their possession and they knew it would be difficult, moreso when their best batsman and captain, Ricky Ponting, was injured before the squad left Antipodean shores.

The task of captaining the side fell to Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist. Gilly had skippered the side on occasion in Steve Waugh’s and Ponting’s absence, usually with success, but never had he been the leader for an entire tour.

From the outset Gilly stamped his mark on the team reminding the squad that they were guests in India and ambassadors for their country and he as leader expected them to conduct themselves accordingly.

While giving the Indian cricketers a lesson at almost every opportunity – winning the series with a match to spare – the Australians, following Adam’s example, charmed the rabid Indian media and consequently the public by not sledging and walking often. Gilly’s post-match interviews were a masterclass in media manipulation as he deflected every loaded question with skill and humility.

A prime example of Gilly’s diplomatic skill was on display after a heavy Indian loss at Bangalore. The disappointed and angry Indian team, represented by their compliant media always hungry for an excuse and a scapegoat, began not unsurprisingly, to attack the umpires. Gilly put the matter in context and then the onus of fairness and responsibility back on the home team.

There aren’t many people in this room who’ve played in front of a crowd like that. The noise is extraordinary. When I went into bat, I had to say to Billy Bowden: “Mate, I wouldn’t do your job for quids”. You have no idea if a batsman has bat-padded, or got an inside-edge, or whatever. It’s a very, very difficult job, made more difficult in these conditions. You have to accept it and move on, and not get too critical.

I understand the frustrations of the Indians in this game. But then, apart from two umpires, no-one congratulated me for walking. And yet today, I was made to feel bad for appealing for Virender Sehwag’s dismissal. As far as I knew, it was out. I’ve since seen there was some bat involved, but why should we be made to feel bad? Let’s be consistent.

So successful was Gilly’s public relations offensive that by the end of the tour the Indian media were writing many a glowing and sycophantic article congratulating the Australians on their tradition, honour, skill and virtue as a cricketing nation beyond compare.

The 2004 Indian tour illustrated to all and sundry the folly of Australian selection policy in choosing the abrasive Ponting above Gilly when Steve Waugh was retired. He conquered the hitherto impenetrable sub-continent and incredibly he infatuated the hearts and minds of the normally carping natives. It was an extraordinary effort and another example of the dignity, intelligence, character and integrity that Adam Gilchrist naturally possesses.

Tomorrow: Gilly bludgeons Sri Lanka and claims his third World Cup crown in succession.

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Responses

  1. Gilly was surely too damn nice to be captain. See this piece for an example http://sport.guardian.co.uk/cricket/story/0,,540028,00.html.

    I’m not saying that Punter wouldn’t have said those things, but Gilly (a) means it and (b) seems to enjoy it, possibly loving the game more than the winning.

    Crudely, if I wanted to share a tinnie with any cricketer, Gilly would be Number One choice, but if Michael Vaughan steps down, I want Punter as captain – he wouldn’t put up with Bell, Harmy and Strauss.

  2. If my memory serves me well Toots, I wasn’t too impressed with Gilly after that match. To be fair, it was the only match of six that he lost as captain, and a dead rubber to boot.

    As you well know I am more than pleased with Ricky’s stewardship, however, I doubt the team would be so disproportionately characterised as the all-sinning souless reprobates of world sport if Gilly was skipper and not the irascible Tasmanian.

  3. That’s my recollection of your view of “Butcher’s match” which was why I was slightly surprised to read your final para.

    I suggest Aus would have been trading a few wins for a few plaudits had Gilly got the job ahead of the irascible Tassie. Once one looks at it like that, there’s only one answer – and 5-0 and 2-1 prove it.


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