Gentleman Gilchrist

To many people, the decision to retire from international cricket and subsequently the announcement made by Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist during the fourth test between India and Australia at the Adelaide Oval, would have come as quite shocking for several reasons. Firstly, though facing a dip in form, no one had made this into an issue—not Cricket Australia, the selectors or the Captain. While for someone like Gilchrist who naturally believed in giving his best for the team and who was least bothered by personal milestones and records, the decision to quit obviously was not so difficult to make. After all, for a selfless cricketer like Gilchrist, the conscience of accountability and performance counts for much more than merely playing for glory. Gilchrist’s conduct and his conscientious decision to bid adieu may well serve as a lesson for every sportsman in which ever game he or she is participating. 

For a cricket crazed country like India—the fans, cricketers and commentators may even miss the larger picture because our cricketers may not act or respond as a Gilchrist whether on or off the field. Just take the following for the sake of argument: The retiring Australian wicketkeeper had put on record that “moment of clarity” - soon after a missed catch - indicated to him that his test career was over. Imagine a 100 test was there for the taking for Gilchrist having played 96-test. Which cricketer will throw away an opportunity to register a milestone in one’s career? For Gilchrist he had to pay the price for the one mistake he made that of dropping Indian batsman VVS Laxman off the bowling of Bret Lee. No Indian cricketer would do a thing like what Gilchrist did. Either they would have to be pushed out or cajoled into retirement. 

Despite his heroics on the field and the status of a superstar wicketkeeper batsman, Gilchrist played the game in a humbling way. He preferred to remain quiet and away from public eye and instead let his performance do the talking. A cricketer of his caliber and status could have easily earned plenty of money doing publicity campaigns and endorsement like some of the Indian cricketers are so fond of doing. A down to earth sportsman, Gilchrist wore his country’s green baggy cap with honour and distinction. 

Another quality worth highlighting here is that Gilchrist was one of those rare cricketers who played the game with true honesty. In cricketing parlance Gilchrist was a ‘walker’ i.e. as a batsman he would instantly return to the pavilion if he had nicked the ball to the keeper or to the slip cordon without waiting for the umpires’ decision. This showed his personal integrity for the game and for his opponents even if it meant sacrificing his team’s cause. This demonstrated that for a sportsman such as Gilchrist, winning or losing did not matter because he understood that cricket was also just a game and the conscience of playing fair and honestly matters more at the end even if it meant defeat. The more important thing was to uphold one’s integrity and the honour of the game. Despite all his humble ways, thankfully cricketing history will remember Gilchrist as the greatest wicketkeeper batsman to have played the game and also a rare cricketer of personal integrity. Well done Gilchrist for the inspiring testimonies.