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'The most dangerous batsman in ODIs'
Part ten: The pressure of bowling to Adam Gilchrist often made you err in your line and length (00:00)
Producer: Ranjit Shinde
June 25, 2012
'The most dangerous batsman in ODIs'June 25, 2012
I think in one-day cricket, as an opener, he was definitely No. 1. He was the most difficult batsman to bowl to because he wasn't a pinch-hitter, he wasn't a slogger. He was a proper batsman and used to play proper shots. I, as a bowler, used to love bowling to pinch-hitters in the first 15 overs because I knew that nine out of ten times I am going to get them out. But Gilchrist was impossible to bowl to. It didn't matter if you are playing in England, Pakistan, Australia, India or wherever - he was equally dangerous.
He was very strong at the cut. I played a lot of cricket against him, and running in with the new ball, I used to think that I am not going to bowl short or wide - but it used to happen. It used to annoy me a lot as a bowler, with all the control, all the experience, I would still bowl a short ball outside the off stump. That is pressure. That's what pressure does to you as a bowler when you are under pressure bowling to a particular batsman.
Why was he so dangerous? He used to play the cut very well on the front foot. He used to drive on the up. If you bowl slightly short just to put him on the back foot, he used to play the pull shot from there, and then if you compensated a bit on your length as a bowler to pitch it up a bit more, he used to hit you straight over the head on a regular basis.
I remember one innings clearly - the Test match in Hobart in 1999, where they needed 387 or 400 to win… they were 120 for 5, and out came Gilchrist and he got 150. I think Justin Langer also got a hundred as well. Saqlain [Mushtaq] got five wickets in the first innings - he got everyone - but in the second innings every time he bowled a doosra, Gilchrist slog-swept him. I was the captain, and I thought there was a chance we were going to get him, but we never got him.
Every one-dayer I played against - I think he was the most dangerous batsman to bowl at. I was a bit wary - not scared, not worried, but I was always wary with the new ball because you can't control the new ball as much as the reverse-swinging ball.
But that hundred he got in Hobart - the reverse swing was there, but he played it brilliantly. He was, in my book, the most difficult batsman to bowl at in one-day cricket because he could hit you all over the park on a regular basis.
At Hobart I used everything: I used the crease, the ball was so old on one side because it was a dead wicket, it was shiny on the other side, rough one side, but it wasn't swinging. They were playing so well, and this happened probably the only time with me and Waqar. Although it was 1999, we weren't quick, but we were swinging the ball both ways. But he was just phenomenal.
Every time I bowled inswing - went wide of the crease bowled inswing with the angle, - he hit me through extra cover every time. He got 150-odd, so he must have hit me for seven-eight boundaries through extra cover. Then I went close to the wicket, outswing with the reverse swing. Again, he hit me on the up for four through extra cover; inswinging yorker and four again. You couldn't bowl a bouncer because it was very slow. And that doesn't matter to Gilchrist [anyway] because the bouncer was his strength. He was one of the few batsmen I know who used to love to play against the short-pitched deliveries.
Comparing Gilchrist with Jayasuriya, the difference was that Sanath was a back-foot player and Gilchrist was a front-foot player. I always thought I had a chance against Sanath.
I got Gilchirst out quite a few times in one-day cricket - I remember a beauty I bowled him with. I think it was 2000-01, we played two games in July, in winter in Australia, in the indoor stadium. It was a drop-in wicket, it was a bouncy track and it was seaming as well. The first game they won easily. In the second game I got him off the first ball. He opened, I was bowling the first over, and it was freezing, and I made sure that at the age of 36 I warmed up properly because if you are not warmed up in the cold weather and Gilchrist is batting, then he will punish you. So I bowled him a perfect delivery and what I aimed for did happen. I aimed middle and leg, going away, and it happed exactly. I bowled that delivery and Gilchrist just edged it. While walking back, he said to me, "It was too good for me mate," and I said to him, "About time, Gilly."
He was incredible, and a very nice human being off the field.
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