To continue our Greatest Test XI of the last century we pick our number seven.
Adam Gilchrist has revolutionised cricket, scoring over 5000 Tests runs from number seven, at an average of almost 50; but, equally impressively, these have been scored at a strike-rate of 82, one of the highest in the history of Test cricket. He has been the epitome of Australian dominance, able to turn positions of weakness into great strength within a couple of hours or totally demoralise an opposition already up against it.
Over 90 Tests, he has scored centuries against every other Test nation, testament to his outstanding quality. With his bludgeoning blade, extraordinary hand-eye co-ordination and ability to attack all forms of bowling, Gilchrist has become one of the most feared batsmen in the history of the game, reducing outstanding bowlers to a state of near-helplessness.
In just his second game, he played one of the most remarkable innings, scoring 149* against a powerful Pakistani attack as Australia recovered from 124-5 to reach their victory target of 369. He has continued in much the same vein ever since, en route to his 17 Test hundreds, with his 204* against South Africa and century against England at Perth (the second fastest in Tests), particularly memorable. Yet it was his 144 in Sri Lanka, when he came in at number three with his side 80 behind in their second innings that provides enduring proof of his skills as a batsman.
As a wicket-keeper, Gilchrist is no Bob Taylor, someone whose keeping was of aesthetic value. Yet he has kept with distinction for 90 Tests, to claim 381 dismissals, just 14 away from Ian Healy’s world record. He is supremely reliable, and very seldom drops chances, while he has also been an instrumental part of Shane Warne’s success. Above all, though, he will be remembered as the consummate counter-attacking number seven.
The side so far: Sutcliffe, Hutton, Bradman, Hammond, Sobers, Imran (captain), Gilchrist (wicket-keeper)
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