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Gilchrist's conscientious moment

ESPNcricinfo staff
In the semi-final against Sri Lanka in 2003, Adam Gilchrist walked back to the pavilion despite being given not out by the on-field umpire

Australians, so the myth goes, walk only after they are out of petrol. So when Adam Gilchrist decided to walk after being dismissed in the 2003 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka, his actions, naturally, were heavily debated.

Opening the batting with Matthew Hayden, Gilchrist was looking to give Australia an explosive opening start and had smacked Pulashi Gunaratne for 11 runs in his first over. With Australia 34 for 0 at the end of five overs, Sanath Jayasuriya, the Sri Lanka captain, brought Aravinda de Silva into the attack.

Gilchrist tried to sweep de Silva's second ball but got an edge. The ball flew off his pads and was caught by Kumar Sangakkara. Umpire Rudi Koertzen ignored the Sri Lankans' appeals, ruling that the ball had only hit the pad before popping up. Gilchrist waited to hear the verdict and then turned and walked back to 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.

Australia were lifted to 212 by Andrew Symonds' 91 and Gilchrist's decision had no bearing on the eventual result as Sri Lanka struggled against the Australian bowlers and were short of the Duckworth-Lewis target when the game was halted by rain.

The result didn't prevent Gilchrist's decision from being dissected minutely. Even as a few perceived it to be a sign of a more enlightened, free-spirited approach in the post-Waugh era, others dissented. Some, like Angus Fraser, objected to him being canonised simply for not cheating. Others thought he had walked almost by accident - that having played his shot he overbalanced in the direction of the pavilion and simply carried on going. These were harsh judgements for an act that ought to have been held as an example for all cricketers.