Gilchrist running out of time - Healy
Adam Gilchrist is good enough to return to peak wicketkeeping form but he is running out of time to do so, according to his predecessor Ian Healy. Gilchrist finished the first day in Adelaide one dismissal short of Mark Boucher's world record of 413, but he found himself under fire after dropping a sitter to give VVS Laxman a reprieve.
It continued a disappointing series for Gilchrist, who was especially sloppy in Sydney. There he spilled a simple chance down leg side to give Rahul Dravid a life, grassed an opportunity low to his right that would have denied Laxman his century, and could not hold on when running backwards to try and snare a lob by Harbhajan Singh. In Melbourne he had been sharper and passed Healy's Australian record of 395 dismissals.
Healy said the heavy workload on Gilchrist, 36, who opens in ODIs and is the team's vice-captain, entitled him to some leeway but he could not use age as an excuse. "He's set the benchmark, we all know what his standards are," Healy told the Cricket Show at lunch on the second day. "We shouldn't be adjusting our standards to cope with a player that might be ageing.
"He's got to get back to his standards and he knows that. He's good enough to maintain and get back to those standards, no question - he can do it tomorrow maybe, he's done all right today - but he's got to do it quickly."
Healy knows what can happen if a veteran does not retire of his own accord - he was 35 when the selectors told him in 1999 they were replacing him with Gilchrist in the Test team. He said with quality glovemen like Brad Haddin in the state ranks the pressure would continue to mount on Gilchrist unless he answered with a boost in form.
"The frustrating thing for him is that it's a long way back, because you're only judged on your mistakes," Healy said. "He could have a perfect game and catch everything that comes his way, and everyone says 'you're expected to do that'. He's got to somehow take some specky catches so that people notice him in a positive sense - so it's a hard thing to do - and not put another one down."
Gilchrist's former captain Steve Waugh said it was fortunate the drop of Laxman on Thursday only cost Australia 18 runs. "For a world-class keeper Gilly's concentration and consequently his sharpness of footwork hasn't been up to his usual exceptional standard and this one could have really hurt Australia," Waugh wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
Gilchrist's batting output has also slowed after 96 consecutive Tests, although he remains a potential danger man at No. 7. Before the Adelaide Test Gilchrist said he was not considering retirement and suggested he might still be in the side at the end of the next Australian summer.