149* v Pakistan, Hobart, 1999-2000
Gilchrist has yet to completely win over the Australian fans, after having replaced their favourite Ian Healy in the side. And in only his second Test, he walks in at 126 for 5, with 243 more required to win the match
. The Pakistan attack - Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib - is charged up, but has little idea what is about to hit them. What follows is one of the great counterattacks. Gilchrist and Justin Langer combine for 238 in 59 overs, as Langer falls just before Australia reach the target. Gilchrist's unbeaten 149 take just 163 deliveries, and feature 13 fours and a six. Steve Waugh later says, "He looks like he is playing in his own backyard." It is the first of many times that Gilchrist would turn a game on its head.
204* v South Africa, Johannesburg, 2001-02
This is a special innings
not only for the sadism Gilchrist treats South Africa with, but for the time it comes at. Gilchrist has been a victim of a vicious internet rumour, and he lets the emotional side of him come out when he cries after reaching one of many milestones in the innings. Still, he has toyed around with South Africa so brutally that Wisden
describes the innings thus: "Gilchrist was playing with them like a cat keeping a half-dead mouse alive for entertainment."
The rockbottom for the helpless South African bowlers comes when he decides to go for an advertising hoarding offering a bar of gold, worth 1.3 million rand, for a direct hit. The billboard is 30 feet in the air, and well behind the deep mid-wicket boundary. But Gilchrist aims to hit Neil McKenzie goldwards, jumping up and down as the ball makes it way towards the hoarding. He misses by a couple of feet, but enough damage has been done by then as that shot takes him to 175. Gilchrist reaches 200 with his 19th four from his 212th delivery. It is the quickest double-century at the time.
122 v India, Mumbai, 2000-01
It is Gilchrist's first Test
in India, and it is not the best of times to walk in when the pitch has started turning and bouncing on the first day, Harbhajan Singh has run amok, and all bar Matthew Hayden have failed to stand their ground in the hot cauldron. At 99 for 5, Australia are about to squander the advantage they have gained by bowling India out for 176, but Gilchrist has other ideas.
In a couple of hours he changes the face of the game and the contest. Sweeping, cutting and lofting, he races to an 84-ball century, the fastest by a visiting batsman on Indian soil. He takes risks, survives clear chances and half chances, but never retreats in a counterattack that is typically breathtaking. He moves from 50 to 100 in 29 balls, as the Indian spinners have no clue as to where to bowl to a marauding Gilchrist who makes sure they gain a lead big enough that they don't have to bat much in the fourth innings when the pitch will be at its worst for the batsmen. The innings has more than a shade of his debut century against Pakistan in Hobart, this one bringing about a famous victory too - Australia's 16th in a row.
113 v Pakistan, Sydney, 2004-05
shows Stuart MacGill as the Man of the Match and Ricky Ponting as the dominant batsman with 207, but it is Gilchrist's 109-ball century that really wrests the match away from Pakistan.
Australia look solid in reply to Pakistan's 304, but at 318 for 4 they need to eliminate the risk of batting last. Gilchrist does that with his 13th Test hundred - he passes Andy Flower's record for a wicketkeeper-batsman, which features scintillating striking towards the end. He brings up the milestone with a straight six off Shahid Afridi, and has raced within reach thanks to consecutive sixes pulled off Mohammad Asif. For Yousuf Youhana and Shoaib Akhtar, who had also been part of the Pakistan team Gilchrist destroyed in Hobart five years earlier, there is a touch of déjà vu.
103 v ICC World XI, Melbourne, 2005-06
Shoaib Akhtar, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff, and Muttiah Muralitharan make up for a delicious bowling attack, and Gilchrist feasts on them like he is playing in the neighbourhood. Such is the innings that it makes the World Series so one-sided the experiment is not repeated.
144 v Bangladesh, Fatullah, 2005-06
After having let Bangladesh score 427 in the Fatullah Test
, Australia find themselves somewhere between embarrassment and humiliation at 93 for 6. There is only Gilchrist who stands between Bangladesh and the unthinkable: enforcing follow-on on Australia, and possibly a win in a Test match. Turns out, Gilchrist is too big a hurdle.
Gilchrist adds 63 with Brett Lee, 73 with Jason Gillespie, and 39 with Stuart Clark to avoid the follow-on. The innings is not his normal got-you-before-you-blink stuff. This is a slow wicket, and he buckles down to overcome a scratchy start and build an conventional Test innings. This is his slowest Test century at the time, yet his 144 come at a strike rate of 67.92. This has to do with a sudden switch of gears as he starts to run out of partners; he hits Enamul Haque for 23 off nine balls. In the process, he passes Chris Cairns's record of 87 Test sixes, and more importantly puts Australia in a state where they can fight back from, and Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden oblige in the second innings by chasing down the 307-run target.
102* v England, Perth, 2006-07
England have put up their first fight on the Ashes tour, bowling Australia out for 244 on the first day, including a duck for Gilchrist. Just when England start to harbour thoughts of a comeback in the series, Gilchrist crushes them ruthlessly. Only Viv Richards has reached a century faster than the 57 balls it took Gilchrist on his home ground
in the second innings. On a boiling Perth day he sizzled, taking to Monty Panesar (24 runs in an over that started with a dot) and Matthew Hoggard in a stunning burst, which included 12 fours and four sixes. He doesn't know he is close to the record, or he could have gone for it. No message comes from the dressing room, and Gilchrist is glad he didn't get there. "Viv deserves that mantle as the fastest hundred," he says later.
149 v Sri Lanka, World Cup final, Bridgetown, 2006-07
Batting with a squash ball inside your glove can be a painful experience, but for Gilchrist in the World Cup final
the squash ball slides into his bottom hand, and makes it less prominent. What results is perhaps the best performance on this grand a stage. Years after the match, it will not be remembered for the farcical finish because of poor governance by the ICC, but for Gilchrist's pure brilliance.
After morning drizzle has made the fans nervously check their schedules for the reserve day, Gilchrist reminds them why they are there. He belts eight sixes in his 129-ball 149, and for a while it seems he can make 200 even in an innings reduced to 38 overs. He is so mesmerising that occasional boos come from the crowd when he gives the strike to Matthew Hayden. Kumar Sangakkara, a member of the opposition, says later, "It was just heartbreaking to watch, but glorious at the same time."