Australia v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day

The power of promotion

The Wisden Verdict by Peter English

January 4, 2005

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Adam Gilchrist should become Australia's permanent No. 6 to solve Australia's bowler fatigue © Getty Images
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Adam Gilchrist should remain Australia's No. 6 for the New Zealand series as a potential solution to their bowler fatigue. Giving Gilchrist, whose stunning clean hitting highlighted a rain-affected day, the responsibility of more innings under pressure would also provide an extended run for Shane Watson or the opportunity to reintroduce Brett Lee.

Easing the load of the fast men has been a serious concern for Ricky Ponting this summer and it has forced the Australians to consider a Test rotational policy. Using five frontline bowlers can clutter the crease, but the upshot is fewer overs for Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie and only one more ice bath.

Australia have shown a willingness for experimentation during their recent world domination and have tinkered with the line-up for this match by adding Watson and Stuart MacGill with the series already sealed. The three-Test tour against New Zealand in March is the perfect venue for a live trial. Darren Lehmann and Simon Katich would be the main protestors.

Gilchrist believes the only difference is that he puts his pads on and starts to think about batting a wicket earlier. "Six is achievable in the long term," he said. "It would be a tough ask to go too much higher."

On special occasions Gilchrist has been shuffled up the order - he was No. 6 for three Tests against West Indies in 2003 - and a stable short-term assignment is not a dangerous risk. Placing him at seven is usually a redundant insurance policy against collapses and wicketkeeping weariness, but if the move drastically unbalanced the side or his form it could be binned with the follow-on before the Ashes.

Often when Gilchrist arrives, like he did today, the score is 300-plus, the match has turned and a wilting attack is subjected to humiliating demolition. His 113 today was so spectacular that he outpaced Ponting, who batted superbly on his way to his fourth double century, by 96 to 28 until stumped by Kamran Akmal. With an amazing ability to launch boundaries without slogging, he spilled 14 fours and five sixes.

The problem for bowlers when running into Gilchrist is they initially feel in the contest. Then he bursts free. Danish Kaneria suffered with three fours in a row as Gilchrist charged down at him and through the 70s. At least Kaneria, a match payment poorer for abusive language after Michael Clarke's dismissal on Monday, remained upbeat through a difficult innings, collecting Gilchrist on his way to 7 for 188.

Gilchrist's treatment of the debutant Mohammad Asif came next and was worse. After consecutive sixes dug to midwicket, the crowd willed him another to reach his hundred. The straight drive next ball fell about five metres short so he waited for Shahid Afridi and punched one over the rope for his 13th century. Walking off briskly, he had entertained brilliantly. Making the step to No. 6 could further excite Australia and enhance his sparkling reputation.

Peter English is Australasian editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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