July 7, 2001

Gilchrist: English conditions made me nervous


Australian hero Adam Gilchrist admitted to feeling nerves prior to the First Test at Edgbaston, and to disappointment at his own wicket-keeping display after England's first innings.

"I was nervous coming into this game," he said. "I had a bad start keeping on the first day. I didn't realise how much it swung in this country when it went past the stumps, it could be so varying."

But Gilchrist was determined not to let those worries pray on his mind, and played an apparently nerveless innings, even when he was on 90 not out and last man Glenn McGrath joined him at the crease. Gilchrist finally quickly up his hundred with a remarkable shot off Andy Caddick.

"I didn't start to freak, I didn't think I was going to get left behind on 99. I was counting on a short ball, if it was a yorker then I might have been in strife. The shot off Caddick was not something a youngster should be watching. Things went may way, but my strengths are that I can attack."

And the Australian vice-captain agreed that his team were in a commanding position.

"We are not getting carried away, but we are in a good position. The first wicket tomorrow will get the ball rolling."

Fellow centurion, Damien Martyn expressed feelings of relief at having recorded his first Test century. "The hundred has been a long time coming," he said. "I feel I've been batting well on this tour. It wasn't easy today and the wicket is going to be hard to bat on for England, but you can't take anything for granted. They are not going to lie down."

England found an unlikely bowling hero in the form of Mark Butcher. He took four wickets, including a spell of three in five balls, as the Australian lower order fell away.

"I'd been dying to get on all day because I thought it might swing a bit at my greatly reduced pace," he revealed. "The other guys had put so much in but I thought it might swing for me more than it did for them and I was proved right.

"I said just as an aside to the captain if nothing's happening for the other guys give me a couple of overs. And as a last resort he lobbed it to me."

Butcher was typically modest about his success, pointing out that Martyn probably lost concentration having completed a maiden Test century.

"I was helped out when Damien Martyn got his hundred. The adrenaline was running for him and I got him with a wide swinging ball," he admitted.

Butcher also reiterated his surprise and joy at having been recalled to England colours.

"Just being in an England Test match was a long way from my thoughts to be honest, let alone being on a hat-trick," he said. "To be get called up was really a bolt out of the blue and when I got the call I was really determined to enjoy the experience. It could be that I play one Test and the other guys are fit again, so I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself."

Butcher's devastating spell was followed by some rough treatment at the hands of Gilchrist, who hit him for 22 in one over. He paid tribute to the excellent Australian batting.

"Martyn came in at difficult time and hit the ball sweetly from the start and Gilchrist came over with a reputation of being able to tear a bowling attack apart. I can attest to that now, it was fantastic hitting at the end.

"I thought I had Gilchrist, but the ball landed 13 rows back. I couldn't have walked off with figures of four for 20, the guys would have lynched me."

But Butcher insisted that England have not given up hope of saving the Test, and stressed the team's determination to fight for the remaining two days.

"They made it very difficult for us, it was a hard day in the field. But if we can be patient and select our shots well, and really get our heads down and not give anything away, then we stand a fair chance of saving the Test," Butcher said.

"There were few alarms and we'll take a bit of heart into tomorrow. The last thing we want to do is roll over a die against these guys. If we do have a reverse here, we want to make it that we walk off with our heads held high.

"If Australia are going to win this game they are going to have to work really hard for it."