Gilchrist Walks Off!

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Life begins at retirement, or so they say. But unlike other professions that leave long-standing servicemen with creaky knees a monetary promise to get by the rest of their lives, cricket is kinder. It sends the retiree with relief, photo-finish memories and in most cases, a content feeling. Adam Gilchrist, undoubtedly the greatest wicket-keeper-batsman the game has seen and one of the top opening batsmen, is finally hanging up his keeping gloves, after the ‘retirement postponement scheme’ of the IPL this year.

The name that featured behind countless wickets that Australian legends Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath claimed, Gilchrist had a rather unspectacular final tournament with Kings XI Punjab. Having stayed out for nearly a month thanks to a hamstring injury, nevertheless, he returned and even scored a blazing 64* marked with signature pulls over mid-wicket and more so, his ever-sporting body language field. That his IPL squad came within kissing distance of making it to the final four wouldn’t have been without his captaincy.
That said, this tournament or rather the whole of IPL (remember him leading the Deccan to victory in 2009?) will still simply be a small high-rise in the skyline of his career, dotted with skyscrapers. He arrived on the scene with his clean, hard-hitting batting that Ian Healy or no other wicket-keeper in history had achieved. He’s the only cricketer to have given impactful performances in three World Cup finals in a row! We raised eyebrows at his flashy sixes off Shoaib Akhtar in ’99, we were pained at his 57 off 66 against us in ’03 and were simply stunned at his massive 149 in the last World Cup final he played, decimating Sri Lanka’s chances in ’07.
But it isn’t the numbers because of which we consider ourselves lucky to have witnessed his career. It is the sportsmanship he brought to the game, topped with his body language that made his performances a treat to watch. Through the past decade when his team was often labeled ‘a pack of wild dogs’ for their notorious on-field behaviours, Gilly earned respect by standing out. He ‘walked’ before the umpire gave his decision in an all-crucial World Cup semi-final, and walked several times, eager to follow his voice, never minding whether it set a trend or what his dressing room felt.
It is perhaps a sign of the times that the other player of his time whom we hold the most gentlemanly adjectives for, Rahul Dravid, too has loosened his shoe-laces. While there is no doubt that both will be seen mentoring their IPL teams in the future, for mentors they truly are for the cricketing fraternity, it won’t be any bit heartening to not see them without pads on.
At 40, it is time Adam Gilchrist returns to his family whose little members he’s often brought on to the turf after famous wins. It is time he begins tweeting actively, and we’re privy to more fascinating aspects of the man. We’ll do without those cuts over point that magically went for six, or those spectacular dives that stopped many a boundary, for Gilchrist must return to doing what he did best, keep walking.


Photo Credits: Cricinfo