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Gilchrist critical of India's keeper policy

Adam Gilchrist on Sunday said India's policy of persisting with Rahul Dravid as makeshift wicket-keeper in one dayers was a "risky" proposition.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2003 19:19 IST

Celebrated Aussie stumper Adam Gilchrist on Sunday said India's policy of persisting with Rahul Dravid as makeshift wicket-keeper in one dayers was a "risky" proposition.

"They (India) have a specialist wicketkeeper in the team (Parthiv Patel), but they are not playing him. Obviously, it depends on a team whether it chooses to play a specialist keeper or not. But I think if you go for another batsman or all-rounder in lieu of a specialist wicketkeeper, it can be risky," Gilchrist told reporters here.

"Sometimes this policy pays off and sometimes it does not, just like the one-day game," Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist, also famed for his aggressive batting as an opener, said the team management should also take into account whether the person assigned to do the keeping job enjoys it or not.

"It is important whether the one who keeps wants the job and enjoys it. You must enjoy wicket-keeping as it is a thankless job... You have to work hard."

Gilchrist, who has notched up an impressive 5775 runs in 176 one day internationals besides taking 256 catches, said he considered his role as a wicketkeeper very vital for the team.

"A wicketkeeper is expected to snap up every chance. I consider missing a chance behind the stumps as more vital than missing a ball while batting," the 33 year-old Aussie cricketer said.

Asked whether he wanted to be remembered as a wicket- keeper who could bat or a batsman who could keep wickets, Gilchrist quipped "I will be happy if I am remembered".

Gilchrist, arguably one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen of all time, said he was yet to take stock of how his career has gone. "One can do so only after the career has ended. It is then that one works out how people will remember him.

"But this aspect has never been the motivating factor for any member of our team. We believe in doing the job... Playing together. That's the foundation of the Australian team," he said.

Commenting on the November 18 tri-series final at the Eden Gardens, Gilchrist said "We had come to India with the ambition of making it to the final. Now that we have achieved that, we are working towards a win. I think it will be a disappointment not to walk away with a victory".

Gilchrist, who has repeatedly given Australia blazing starts in the tournament, said it would be 'nice' if the November 18 match turned out to be a repeat of the World Cup final in South Africa earlier this year when the Aussie crushed India to win the coveted trophy.

"For that we have to play well. We have to back up our will with a solid performance," Gilchrist, who made his one-day debut against South Africa on Indian soil at Faridabad in 1996-97, said.

The wicket-keeper batsman has watched in only 'bits and pieces' India's emphatic win against New Zealand at Hyderabad last night. "But I'm not at all surprised at the way India won. They are a highly talented side. They struck form and were through to the final."

Praising Indian openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag for laying a solid foundation to the innings, Gilchrist lauded Rahul Dravid for playing an aggressive knock to finish the job.

He described the Eden Gardens as a "terrific venue, one of the finest in world cricket," but said that it would be premature to pass judgement on the nature of the wicket.

"A wicket can be changed quickly. For instance in Hyderabad, the track initially had lots of grass, which were removed later on. So, I think it will be proper to comment on the pitch only on the day of the match," he said.

Gilchrist emphasised that the pressure of playing before a capacity crowd of one lakh at the Eden Gardens would not affect the performance of his side.

"Cricket is an individual battle betwen a batsman and bowler. It does not matter whether it is played before 100 persons or a hundred thousand. Moreover, traditionally, our team has handled pressure well," he said.

"Purely from an event perspective, I'm thrilled that India are in the final because that has brightened the prospect for a big crowd," Gilchrist said, recalling the last meeting between the two sides at Eden Gardens in the famous 2001 Test match where V V S Laxman's 281 enabled India to fashion a historic win.

The Aussie also felt that his side's recent triumphs have not been made possible because of low standards of the opposition teams.

"Cricket is as it was in the earlier era. Some old timers may think that the game was of a higher standard during their time. But I feel that it is very difficult to compare different eras."

First Published: Nov 16, 2003 17:19 IST