Years later, the ‘Gilly’ effect is still being felt

I started watching cricket in the early 1990s, when the role of a wicketkeeper in a Test team was to be good with the gloves and contribute some useful runs with the bat.

Australia had Ian Healy, who was a brilliant keeper and also was a useful bat down the order, at a time when teams were happy with keepers contributing 20s and 30s, with the occasional 50.

All that changed on November 21, 1999.

Chasing 369 to win against a strong Pakistan at Bellerive Oval, Australia had lost half their side for just over a 100.

Justin Langer was holding up one end and Adam Gilchrist, in only his second Test having replaced Healy, came in to join him in the middle.

The Pakistan bowling attack was a strong one, comprising Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq. Even though Gilchrist had made his ODI debut three years earlier, no one could have predicted what followed over the next 24 hours.

Gilchrist scored a brilliant, unbeaten 149, Australia chased down the total, and the legend was born. For the next nine years, Gilchrist tormented bowling attacks around the world.

Gilchrist was brilliant behind the stumps too, was excellent keeping wickets to the legendary Shane Warne, and he had an amazing ODI career as an opener.

This success made teams world over realise how important the role of a good wicketkeeper-batsman can be, and in an effort to find their own version ended up compromising the primary skills of many a keeper.

The only other player who did well as a keeper in the ’90s was Andy Flower, but again, he wasn’t as destructive as Gilchrist.

Mark Boucher was brilliant for South Africa and was decent with the bat. Alec Stewart was good for England, as were Adam Parore and Dave Richardson, but none came even close to the impact Gilly had for Australia.

In the 2000s we saw Kumar Sangakkara, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum and MS Dhoni – all brilliant for their teams – but again, none had the impact of Gilchrist.

Sangakkara and De Villiers found keeping and batting hard to combine, and gave up their gloves to concentrate on batting. Dhoni was a good keeper but was not effective with the bat overseas. McCullum played just 52 Tests as a keeper before becoming a frontline batter for his side.

From the current generation, possibly Quinton de Kock comes close, but he has a long way to go before he can be compared to the Aussie.

Gilchrist not only averaged 47.8 with the bat but also scored those runs at an enormous strike rate of 81.95 – a deadly combination that saw him turn Test matches multiple times during his career.

Adam Gilchrist set a trend that teams the world over are struggling to follow to this date.

Link to my original article

India look to build on the Momentum

Sehwag executes a pull during his 56 ball 77 in the first game in Napier

Sehwag executes a pull during his 56 ball 77 in the first game in Napier

India put behind their dissapointing twenty20 outing with a strong performance in the first ODI at Napier. Everything went according to the plan for the men in blue starting with the toss. Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat on a good batting pitch and his batsmen did not dissapoint him. Newzealand bowlers were wayward and Sehwag along with Sachin got India to a flier before the rain halted the play for the first time. India were 27/0 in the 5th over.

The game began after a 2 hr 20 minute break as a 38 over a side contest. Sehwag and Sachin began positively putting on 69 for the first wicket of just 10 overs. Sachin was out trying to run Ian Butler to third man and much to the surprise of everyone the Indian captain walked out to the middle instead of Gautam Ghambir. I am sure that this was not something the Kiwis were expecting. Dhoni formed the anchor at one end allowing Sehwag followed by Raina and Pathan to play freely. After Sehwag departed for 77 there was a small dip in the scoring rate and with Yuvraj runout for 3 Newzealand would have felt they had a chance of restricting the score.

Raina walked in to join the captain in the middle and what happened for next twelve overs put Newzealand completely on the back foot. Raina played a brilliant innings. When he came on to bat the game was still in balance and India needed a good partnership. Dhoni and Raina added 110 in just 74 balls to put the Kiwis out of the game. Raina was out after scoring 69 of just 39 deliveries. It seems like Raina is at last fulfilling the potential he displayed when made his debut few years back.

278 to win of 38 overs was always going to be tough for the home team. They lost 4 wickets for just over a hundred when the rain stopped play for the second time. When the players came out the batting team needed an impossible 105 of 46 deliveries. Few overs later NZ found themselves 9 down with just 132 on the board when harbajan struck thrice in four balls. Daniel Vettori with Ian O’ Brian made sure that the home team arent bowled out. NZ finished on 162 for the loss of 9 wickets going down to the visitors by 53 runs.

India yet again turned in a clinical performance with both the batting and the bowling clicking well for them. Praveen Kumar swung the ball consistantly and troubled both the openers and Zaheer as always was consistant. Munaf Patel needs to step up in the absence of Ishant Sharma. Ishant will be out again for the second game in the westpac stadium at Wellington giving Munaf another opportunity to prove himself. India would most probably go with an unchanged team barring any injuries. NZ though have an injury scare with Brendon Mccullum and may think of playing Tim Southee in the place of Kyle Mills as the latter had a horrible first game. The hosts have a great record at the Westpac stadium and have won their last 5 ODI’s played here.

Daniel Vettori would want a better performance from his bowlers and would hope that they can draw level in Wellington. Dhoni and India though would want to take a 2-0 lead to put more pressure on the Kiwis.