“It’s very difficult to stop Adam Gilchrist when he plays like that,” said Virender Sehwag after the mauling his Delhi Daredevils got from the Deccan Chargers captain on Friday. Being a man of simple but honest words, he was almost right. Almost, because it’s not merely “very difficult” to stop a marauding Gilchrist. It’s impossible.
In his distinctive and destructive way, the ageless aggressor extraordinaire has inspired a story which looks unbelievable in comparison to what happened last year. From the bottom of the heap, his team leapfrogged to the final this year with the most significant contribution coming from the skipper.
It is a team game and the likes of Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, R.P. Singh or Herschelle Gibbs will contribute from time to time.
They did this time too and had a role to play in their team staying till the last day of the tournament but it’s safe to say that the journey wouldn’t have lasted this long had Gilchrist not fired.
Ask him and Gilchrist will come up with the routine stuff. “It was a lot of hard work and everyone responded. We analysed our game when we didn’t do well and when we did do well. It’s great thrill to come to the final after having started the tournament as underdogs. Everybody contributed.” Most captains say that and it didn’t mark Gilchrist out as different, which he certainly is.
However, one got a glimpse of how different he is when he said: “Whatever I do on the field becomes the most important moment of my life. Whether I’m facing a ball or getting ready to collect one, I think of that. Whatever I have done before that becomes a thing of the past. I think of the moment only.”
It gives one an idea of the intensity with which this man plays his cricket. For many, the 35-ball 85 would have meant a happy day in office. Here, Gilchrist sounded dejected that he didn’t finish the job. “After 15 years in international cricket, I ought to have learnt something. I should have stayed there and I can’t still get over the fact that I got out on the last ball before the (strategy) break.”
The remorse in his voice seemed genuine. Many players half his age would have been satisfied with that kind of an effort but the man who has nothing to prove and who is not answerable to anyone, was disappointed that he didn’t continue after putting his team on course for a win.
The IPL in SA will remain memorable for many reasons. The sight of Gilchrist running between wickets after overs to change ends, coming out to bat and pummelling the bowlers around the park with complete nonchalance and sprinting up the staircase to the pavilion after getting out — acts giving glimpses of what he says of his “passion, enthusiasm and love for the game” — will be among the everlasting ones.