March 10, 2002

Gilchrist happy at No.7

Adam Gilchrist wants to remain Australia's No.7 batsman even though he has moved into territory surpassed only by Don Bradman.

Gilchrist pushed his Test average beyond 60 when he blasted another century against South Africa yesterday, taking just 108 deliveries to make 138 not out in the Second Test in Cape Town.

He is on the path to batting greatness, with a record matching the likes of Gary Sobers and Len Hutton after 41 Test innings, but Gilchrist remains convinced wicketkeeping should be his No.1 job in cricket.

His latest century was perhaps more devastating than the unbeaten 204 he made in Johannesburg two weeks ago because the left-hander came to the crease with Australia in trouble for the first time in the series.

Less than three hours later, Gilchrist had his sixth Test century, a blistering career strike rate of 81.3 and an average of 61.48 - a mark only Bradman bettered among international batsman to have played at least 15 Tests.

He has scored 398 runs on the South African trip and been dismissed only once - in a tour match - while his Test average has soared past the likes of Herbert Sutcliffe (60.73), George Headley (60.83) and South Africa's Graeme Pollock who was previously second best on 60.97.

Gilchrist doesn't possess the classical style of the likes of Greg Chappell or Sachin Tendulkar (average 58.57) but he boasts a brutal ability to score on both sides of the wicket against any attack in world cricket.

But he doesn't want to move from his lower order position, even as the Waugh brothers again come under pressure after twin failures in Australia's first innings total of 382 after two days of the Test against South Africa (239 and 0-7).

"I'm really comfortable there. It's been a feature of my career at first-class standard but whenever I've strung a couple of scores together the question arises do I need to bat higher," Gilchrist said.

"It's a well-balanced team and we've been successful. I've got no need to think of any other changes."

Other Test teams would rush Gilchrist into their top ranks, especially with a strike rate that is peerless in modern day cricket.

At more than 81 runs per 100 balls, it is miles better than some of Australia's most aggressive batsmen, including Michael Slater (53.29) and Mark Waugh (52.13), and powerful New Zealander Chris Cairns (54.14).

"I'm a bit amazed at those sorts of figures and I just try my best to maintain that and keep going," Gilchrist said.

"It's certainly not what I could have expected or hoped for but it's going well.

"The key is trying to maintain it for as long as you play because there is going to be down times and I've experienced a couple of those.

"I don't want to get too high when I'm high or too low when I'm low.

"I'll talk about the average when I'm finished."

Gilchrist was satisfied that his rescue mission yesterday, featuring in a 135-run partnership with Shane Warne (63 from 65 balls) resulted in his first consecutive centuries in Tests, helping ease his disappointment from India last year when his lightning 122 in Mumbai was followed by scores of 0, 0, 1 and 1.

"I've always felt the innings after a big innings is important and I've tended to miss out straight after," he said.

"It was one of those days when they seemed to bowl in the areas you like to be bowled to in and ... as far as an innings goes it's one of the best I've been able to string together and play, particularly at Test level."

While Gilchrist received a standing ovation from the Newlands crowd, the Waugh brothers did nothing to buck the pressure tightened by their axings from the national one-day team in the last month.

Steve was out for a duck, making a mess of a delivery from recalled spinner Paul Adams (4-102) which deflected from his pad to the stumps.

Mark lasted longer but he did not get out of second gear in his scrappy 25, leaving the job ahead of the 36-year-olds to prove they can remain dominant forces in the Australian team.