The two formats of cricket have often led to players being tagged as a 'one-day' specialist or a 'test match' specialist. In the past we've also seen radically different teams and even different captains for the t wo versions. However, for some players it just doesn't matter. Further, some have even gone a couple of notches ahead and through their incredible actions have managed to bridge a bit of a gap between the two. Fewer belong to such an exclusive league more than the man who's donned the baggy green 381 - Adam Gilchrist.
'Gilly' or 'Church' as he's also known, has probably been one of the greatest all time cricketers to have played the game. Without a doubt, the best wicketkeeper batsman of all times, he's redefined the position of a No. 7 bat in the team. No more can an opposition breathe a sigh of relief when they get the Aussies 5 down, coz' they know that the next man taking guard probably hits the ball harder than anyone else in the game. For the purists, he averages almost 48 with the bat. Did I mention his strike rate? It stands at 81.97 (courtesy Cricinfo stats). To drop a comparison factor, his skipper Ricky Ponting strikes at 80.68 in the ODI version of the game!
Almost everyone falls into the trap of labeling him as a batsman-wicketkeeper rather than a keeper-batsman, which baffles me to no extent, since here's a chap who's recorded the maximum number of dismissals in test cricket. Now, if he still belongs to the latter category, that's quite a hefty bonus, isn't it? They say that Warne could bowl a different delivery every over - leg breaks, zooters, wrong 'uns, flippers, fizzers, whatever. Realistically speaking, if its difficult for a batsman to pick them up, how 'bout the wicketkeeper who even has to anticipate the various edges of the bat that the ball can brush. Yes, he might have dropped a few, some even sitters, but that's what this sport is all about. In fact, to call him one of the chief architects of the Australian juggernaut in last decade or so wouldn't be outrageous at all.
Ian Healy was good, perhaps one of the greatest glovesman to have played this game. Filling his boots wasn't easy and now when Brad Haddin sees Gilchrist's boots, I'm sure he'll find them even bigger!
Thank you Adam Gilchrist, for it was an absolute privilege watching you play, be it behind or in front of the stumps, for you never ceased to entertain us with the way you played the game. We've seen you in whites and in the funky yellow, but its the the sight or your baggy green that will be sorely missed.