DateLine: 28th April 2009
Adam Gilchrist was the iconic heart of Australia's steamrolling agenda and the most exhilarating cricketer of the modern age. Employing a high-on-the-handle grip, he poked good balls into gaps and throttled most others, invariably with head straight, wrists soft and balance sublime. He managed to score at a tempo - 81 per 100 balls in Tests, 96 in one-dayers. It was arguably Gilchrist's belated Test arrival that turned the Australian XI from powerful to overpowering. He bludgeoned 81 on debut, pouched five catches and a stumping. Only in the closing stages of an untouchable career did his appetite slow.
The 2006-07 Ashes series was literally hit and miss, with three single-figure scores, two fifties and his most brutal hundred. At home his one-day form was subdued, but the game's biggest competition - and it's most important match - brought out Gilchrist's highest standards. He stole the World Cup final from Sri Lanka with 149 off 104 balls, slamming 13 fours and eight sixes, and added to his 54 and 57 from his previous two global triumphs.
In Tests, three Gilchrist innings rank among the most amazing by Australians: his death-defying unbeaten 149 against Pakistan at Hobart when all seemed lost, his savage and emotional 204 not out against South Africa at Johannesburg, and his 57-delivery Ashes century at Perth when he missed equalling Richards' world mark by a ball. In one-dayers, his 172 is the third-highest score by an Australian and his 472 dismissals might take decades to top. As Ponting's fill-in he crossed the final frontier, leading Australia to their first series win in India for 35 years in 2004-05. As a wicketkeeper he lacked Rod Marsh's acrobatics and Ian Healy's finesse, and he probably peaked at 30 in 2002. But if he clutched few screamers he dropped even fewer sitters, although one easy offering in Adelaide convinced him it was time to go. During that match against India he briefly became the leading gloveman in Test cricket by overtaking Mark Boucher, then the following day announced his retirement from all cricket but the Indian Premier League.
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