Gary Gilmour 1951-2014 June 10, 2014

Gary Gilmour dies at 62


Gary Gilmour, the fast bowler who played 15 Tests for Australia and famously demolished England in the 1975 World Cup semi-final, has died at the age of 62.

Gilmour, who had undergone a life-saving liver transplant in 2005, had battled health problems for many years and died at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Tuesday, after having a hip operation on Monday. Although his international career consisted of only 20 matches across the two formats and was finished by the time he was 25, it featured several remarkable performances.

Perhaps the most memorable was the 6 for 14 he claimed in the World Cup semi-final at Headingley in June 1975, when England's batsmen had no answers for his left-arm swing. The performance was listed by Wisden in 2002 as the greatest bowling effort in ODI history, and the 23-year-old Gilmour followed up with 5 for 48 in the final against West Indies.

His 15 Tests brought 54 wickets at 26.03, but his Test career is remembered as much for his destructive century against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1977 as for his bowling. Against an attack led by Richard Hadlee, Gilmour - known as "Gus" - crunched 20 fours and one six, meaning 86 of his 101 runs in his only Test century had come from boundaries.

"I was next in and the ball was hooping everywhere, Sir Richard Hadlee was bowling and every time Gus picked the bat up I thought 'this is the one, the stumps will go everywhere here'," Kerry O'Keeffe told ESPNcricinfo. "But it kept disappearing all over Christchurch. Then he'd run in and I'd think 'he'll nick this one, first slip will catch this', and long-off was chasing it.

"Honestly, 20 fours and a six, and every one of those fours could have been out! Richard Hadlee on a seaming pitch at Lancaster Park - I though there's no way known you could pick the bat up as high as Gus did, and with serious intent smack it and not nick one. I was doing the sums with the gloves on, next man in.

"I was also in the crowd on that [semi-final] day where he swung that ball against England. It was one of the most exciting spells. He had a day where the inswinger and the outswinger went prodigiously, they didn't go softly, they just boomeranged. You wouldn't think anyone could swing the ball that much but he did that day."

Remarkably, the semi-final was Gilmour's third one-day international, and his first match in the tournament. But Australia's captain Ian Chappell asked Gilmour to share the new ball with Dennis Lillee and his 12 overs brought 6 for 14, which stood as an ODI bowling record until West Indian Winston Davis took 7 for 51 in 1983. It was an Australian record until Glenn McGrath took 7 for 15 in the 2003 World Cup.

"They kept shouldering arms and the ball swung back in and did the rest," Gilmour said of the England batsmen in a 2003 interview. "I wanted to bowl and bowl. I didn't want my overs to run out."

Not only did Gilmour destroy England with the ball, he rescued Australia with the bat. When he joined Doug Walters in the chase of 94, Australia were 39 for 6 and in danger of being bundled out. Gilmour struck five fours in an unbeaten 28 from 28 balls to confirm Australia's place in the final. His efforts also earned him a place in the third Ashes Test at Headingley later the same year, and he claimed his best Test figures of 6 for 85.

"We picked him for the Test match at Headingley in 1975 because he'd got his 6 for 14 there in the World Cup, and we dropped Alan Turner who fielded at bat-pad," Chappell said. "We walked out to bowl first and I thought who's going to field there ... and thought Gus can, he can field anywhere. So I told him 'Gus you're taking Fitteran [Turner's] place so you can field in his spot'.

"Alan had this very recognisable run, really kicked his heels up and almost hit himself in the bum with his run. So Gus turns to chase about the third ball of the Test match and he starts running like Fitteran! So I've told him 'you're taking his place' so he starts running like him! It was only his fourth Test and here he was taking the piss in the first over."

Chappell said Gilmour's talents did not stop at cricket, but extended to almost any sport he tried. However, injuries and illness caused him problems throughout his life.

"I caught him in a baseball match among cricketers in Newcastle around 1980," Chappell said. "He pitched in the main game we played against Newcastle and tied that game 2-2, he was a hell of a good pitcher.

"From all reports he was a hell of a good rugby union fullback, terrific kicker of the ball, saw him play a bit of tennis on tour and he had a serve like Neale Fraser. He'd just turn up, toss the ball and bang the arm would come down, we'd all look and think 'who is this bloke?' But he could just do anything.

"When you look back now it's pretty obvious that his body was breaking down. At Centenary Test time his ankles were shot and he had a lot of trouble with his liver from a fairly young age. You didn't know that at the time, but it's fairly obvious now that his body was starting to give out even at that age."

An old-school cricketer with immense all-round talent, Gilmour said in the 2003 interview that he would not have enjoyed playing in the modern era. "I couldn't play under today's conditions, what with the travelling and training and scientific aspects," he said. "It's not a sport any more, it's like going to work. You know how some mornings you get up and don't want to go to work - that's how I'd feel playing cricket these days. I'd clock on for a sickie."

One of the few players to score a century on first-class debut for New South Wales - he made 122 against South Australia in his first match in 1971-72 - he finished his career with 233 wickets at 31.52 and 3126 runs at 30.64 from 75 first-class games. Steve Bernard, the team-mate who often shared the new ball with Gilmour at New South Wales, described him as extraordinarily talented.

"As a cricketer he was the most talented player of my time, a guy who had extraordinary talents in every facet of cricket," Bernard said. "In hindsight he probably didn't reach the heights that he should have, based on his cricket ability, but the guys who played with him and against him will recognise he was a fantastic player, who was dynamic in anything he did in cricket.

"When he was on he was unplayable. He bowled a swinging ball, he could hit the ball a mile, throw it like a bullet and he was a fantastic catcher either close to the wicket or in the outfield - a supreme cricketer. He was a very popular person, Gus, a bit of a larrikin and very much liked by everyone. He didn't take life all that seriously, played for the enjoyment of it."

Chappell said as well as enjoying the game, Gilmour provided plenty of enjoyment for those who saw him and played with him. "The last couple of weeks when he's been crook it's amazing the number of people who've asked about him, called about him, sent messages asking," Chappell said. "He was a very, very popular team-mate."

Gilmour is survived by his wife Helen, daughter Brooke and sons Ben and Sam. The family was also mourning a third son, Clint, who recently died aged 33 after a long battle with brain cancer.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    I never read his past performance before, i did not know his career was so short lived due to injuries, all i knew was that he was a great player and achiever.i was a kid in his hey days but still remember him in my sub-conciseness. My condolences to his family and people of a great cricketing nation Australia.

  • Altaf on June 11, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    He was not only great cricketer but having good hands in other sports too that makes him more interesting. He was having potential to be second Lilly. Sad, due to injury, could not play more cricket.

  • Anver on June 11, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    6/14 is amazing bowling figures !!! a good sets of B/W images along with this nice article... a great idea by the Editor !!!

  • Anver on June 11, 2014, 5:07 GMT

    A great all round cricketer with some outstanding talent... RIP !!!!

  • ramachandra on June 11, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    Hard to say whether he was better as a cricketer or a human being. Outstanding cricket talent. Outstanding human being.

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2014, 3:48 GMT

    I remember playing cricket against Gus the first time when we were 11 in Newcastle. He had a reputation already by then! The first ball I received I reckon came straight out of Headingly 1975, just 13 years earlier! I was shell shocked with his pace as a kid and his ability to bend the red pill! Later we were team mates for a number of years and his sheer ability, coupled with his laid back approach was mind blowing! At high school he played for Newcastle Boys High and I Newcastle Tech High! In one game we batted first and amazingly finished at 3 for 270+! Everybody thought we had the game in the bag! Come the following Wednesday afternoon we copped a hiding! We didn't do much chasing, as we leisurely strolled to the boundary fence to retrieve the ball! Yes Gus decimated us with 130 something not out with the majority of his shots going to the boundary! RIP Gus

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    Kallicharan ,Kanhai , Richards , Lloyd and Murray for good measure his scalps in 1975 World Cup Final ( complete middle order ).No mean feat .

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    Watched him play many times and in either 80 or 81 he got me out caught at cover I'll probably remember the moment more than he will especially now Too young to give up the fight I hope he finds green wickets and conditions perfect for swing ..........

  • Bill on June 11, 2014, 2:45 GMT

    Very sad to read of Gary Gilmour's passing. I saw him make 95 batting at 8 for Aus against WI at Adelaide Oval in 75/76. He came off the field last man out, opened the bowling and got Roy Fredericks' wicket in his first over. Had he not been hampered by injuries and ill health, with a bit of luck he could have been the fifth great all-rounder in the 80s alongsige Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham.

  • rob on June 11, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    Very sad. I can't remember his actual playing days but I certainly know who Gus Gilmore is and the special place he has in our cricket history. RIP old mate.

    @latecut04: Gilmore was supremely talented but cursed with a frail body. He started to get sick in his early 20's and by the time he retired he was falling apart and in for a life time of illness. Apparently Victor Trumper was similar. .. Anyway, Gus is a good example of just how cruel and ironic mother nature can be I guess. Packing an outrageous amount of talent into a fundamentally flawed vessel seems like a very sick joke to me.