This was one announcement everyone knew would come sooner rather than later, but none thought it would come a day after Adam Gilchrist had said that he was in no hurry to make it. All were shocked after the day’s play on Saturday when news filtered out that the peerless wicketkeeper-batsman was indeed calling it a day.
He was not ready to come out in public and through a written statement released by Cricket Australia said: “It’s with great happiness and pride that I make the decision to retire from Test and One-day cricket. I’ve come to this decision after much thought and discussion with those most important to me.”
Gilchrist will quit Test cricket as the most successful wicketkeeper in history after the end of the ongoing Test and bid adieu to ODIs at the end of the tri-series following it, featuring India and Sri Lanka. After that, he will “move into the next phase of his life which will include much more time with Mel (wife), Harrison and Archie (sons) and Annie (daughter)”.
Describing this as a “massive and surprise” news, Matthew Hayden said it had been a privilege for him to partner Gilchrist as opener in one-day cricket. “He informed us of his decision one by one this morning. He will be deeply, deeply missed. He was one of the best ever to have played the game.”
It was unfortunate on Hayden’s part to an extent that on a day he went past Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test centuries, hardly anybody was talking about him. Almost all questions directed at him were on Gilchrist and Hayden seemed more than happy to answer them.
“We can only look at what he’s done and the way he’s done them. In terms of flamboyance, he equals Viv Richards and some of the other great Calypso creatures. Not only did he entertain himself, but he did that across the globe and in a statesman like manner. His longevity is incredible and so was his ability to be so incredibly positive.”
Reiterating what Gilchrist himself had said a day earlier, Hayden said that the criticism which he had been facing of late was actually an impetus that kept him going. “As international sportsmen, you have to face it. And I think after listening to all that, he actually enjoyed it and took the positives out of them.” Gilchrist, who through the statement informed that he didn’t want to make a public appearance until this Test got over, said: “My family and I have been fortunate to have had an amazing journey full of rich experiences throughout my career and are sincerely grateful to all who have helped make this stage of our lives so fulfilling.”
Coming hardly 24 hours after he had said that he would make his retirement plans clear to the public and the media in due course, it was too fast and that’s why very surprising. Almost as fast and as stunning as the way he played his cricket. People will come and go, but it will be difficult to find another Adam Gilchrist.