No. 40 September 20, 2009

Gilchrist walks

An Australian giving his wicket away? At the World Cup? Truth is often stranger than fiction

Port Elizabeth, 18 March 2003

Australians only walk when their car has run out of petrol. But in the 2003 World Cup, Adam Gilchrist disproved that theory with an act of sportsmanship that generated almost universal approval along cricket supporters, and general bemusement, not to say disquiet, in the Australian dressing room.

It was the semi-final, and Gilchrist attempted to sweep the offspin of Aravinda de Silva, got a thin edge onto his pad and was caught behind. Rudi Koertzen, the umpire, did not respond to Sri Lanka's appeals but Gilchrist did. He paused, waited for the umpire's decision - or non-decision - then turned and headed for the pavilion.

It was an astonishing moment, partly because it was an Australian, partly because it was such an important game, and partly because the nature of that type of dismissal is rarely clear-cut.

Gilchrist's decision had no bearing on the result - Australia won comfortably - but it seemed to be a symbol of a more enlightened, free-spirited approach in the post-Waugh era. Of course, under duress these good intentions can go out of the window; there weren't many Australians walking in the 2005 Ashes.

There were some dissenting voices about Gilchrist's action. Some, like Angus Fraser, objected to him being canonised simply for not cheating. Others thought that he walked almost by accident; that having played his shot he overbalanced in the direction of the pavilion and simply carried on going. Both are harsh judgments. It was a remarkable occurrence, and one that should be held as an example to all cricketers.

John Stern is editor of the Wisden Cricketer. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Richard on September 22, 2009, 14:34 GMT

    Apart from Gilly's obvious ability to score test match runs at a very fast rate, and being a genuine all-round wicketkeeper-batsman, the reputation for being one of only a few "walkers" is why he is one of the most admired Aussie cricketers amongst us Poms.

  • Sandeep on September 21, 2009, 21:49 GMT

    What can you say? Gillly is a giant amongst men. This is a trait which sets him apart from other cricketers. he embodies what the sport is all about. Good on yer

  • Smith on September 21, 2009, 17:01 GMT

    I think so one shouldn't walk, until the decision given is pathetic. Because no bowler will give you a second chance if you're given out incorrectly-which happens quite often. In most cases, the correct decisions and the wrong decisions even out over a span of few years. The other point is that, no batsmen is going to walk when he needs his wicket the most. Would Gilchrist have walked in an innings where he desperately needed to score runs to keep a place in the team....???

  • Worrell on September 21, 2009, 11:42 GMT

    And Brian walked irrespective of the nature of the game. Any credit for that.

  • Worrell on September 21, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    Geez, Gilchrist walking is a revelation? Viv Richards walked as soon as he nicked a ball. Lara was known for disappearing from the crease a soon as he nicked the ball, and before the umpire knew what was happening. And it was a frequent occurrence and one we thought nothing of.

  • Bingo on September 21, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    Yes definitely the most sporting gesture was that of Vishy to recall Taylor. Vishy was probably among the last gentlemen who played the sport!

  • Rahul on September 21, 2009, 10:07 GMT

    Loving this feature! Great to remember such memorable moments in cricket, and yes, this truly was one of them!

    Keep up the great work. Looking forward to the next magic moment :)

  • Lucas on September 21, 2009, 3:23 GMT

    There is no mention of "walking" in Spirit of Cricket (the preamble to the Laws of Cricket). However "to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out" is against the spirit of the game, and I believe (I may be wrong) that Gilchrist did this more times than he walked. I'm not saying he is a bad bloke, but it is worth a thought.

  • Timothy on September 21, 2009, 2:04 GMT

    I thinks its unfair to look down on batsman who choose not to walk. I find that those sort of comments usually come from people who haven't played the game very much. The reality of batting is that you get a lot of calls that go against you, and alot that also go with you. Ive been out caught off my pads and off bump balls, LBW of inside edges, even LBW dancing down the wicket! Conversely Ive also been not out when Ive nicked the ball through to the keeper, and Im sure Ive been lucky with LBWs more then my fair share as well. In the end, your luck tends to even out, both as a batter and a bowler. As long as your happy to accept the umpires mistakes, whether it be for you or against you, then I don't see it as bad sportsmanship. I think its the least complicated way for everyone, umpires and players.

  • Anup on September 20, 2009, 21:46 GMT

    happy that he walked.. it is a very hard thing to do.. but is this such a big issue to be written about as a magic moment? i remember 2 other people who always walked; Gundappa Vishwanath and Brian Lara and they never seem to get any credit for it. i think GRV's golden jubilee test's gesture was a much more magical moment than this.. why are the cricinfo authors so short-sighted..?

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