|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
At Chittagong Divisional Stadium, Chittagong, April 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2006. Australia won by an innings and 80 runs. Toss: Bangladesh. Test debuts: Abdur Razzak; D. J. Cullen.
If Australia were taken aback in Fatullah, they were positively shocked in Chittagong. This time, they were not surprised by the opposition, though the Bangladesh tail wagged vigorously at the last. Nor was it the media sit-in, protesting at the alleged police assault of a local photographer, which delayed the match's start by ten minutes and led to an ugly lunchtime brawl between police and press. Nor was it the violent thunderstorms that blew apart the scoreboard on the second day and dismantled the makeshift bamboo shelters in the stands.
No, the most unthinkable sight of all was that of Jason Gillespie tickling a ball down to fine leg and then running back towards the Australian dressing-room, ecstatic and more than a little bemused at the number 201 beside his name. So improbable was his double-century that even he could only shake his head, poke his tongue out and utter astonished expletives. At the Australian High Commission in Dhaka, they named a bar after "Dizzy", and his bat manufacturer announced plans for a "DZ 201" bat. Cast aside after a listless Ashes series, Gillespie, the most threatening of Australia's pace bowlers on this comeback tour, summed up his adventure as a fairytale. "Hansel and Gretel and Dizzy's double-hundred, it's one and the same," he said.
When Ponting asked him to go in as night-watchman on the opening day, after Gillespie had dismissed Bangladesh's top three in his first four overs to send them lurching towards a paltry first-innings 197, he was focused only on guarding his stumps and staying in as long as possible. Three days later - his 31st birthday, as it happened - his main concern was how to evade an agreement with Hayden and the team masseuse that he must do a nude lap of the ground should he become the first night-watchman to reach a Test milestone that had eluded the likes of Ian Chappell and Mark Waugh.
In between, with a painfully straight bat, Gillespie constructed the longest innings ever played by a night-watchman. Over nine hours and 34 minutes at the crease, he was a picture of concentration. It is too big a stretch to say he looked comfortable, but with pushes and prods, and the odd moment of audacity - he went down on one knee to lift Abdur Razzak straight over his head for one glorious six, and smacked Rajin Saleh over mid-wicket for another - he carved a deeper space in sporting folklore than his trademark mullet, recently shorn off, could ever have earned. He brought up his double-hundred off 425 balls with his 26th four, and Ponting immediately declared. Gillespie's previous first-class best was 58. This was his 71st Test and his 93rd innings, breaking the records set by Heath Streak for the longest wait for a maiden Test century. His feat overshadowed that of Hussey, who helped him add 320 for the fourth wicket; on his way to 182, his fourth and highest Test hundred, Hussey completed 1,000 Test runs just 166 days after his debut, knocking two months off Andrew Strauss's record.
For Bangladesh, Chittagong undermined much of the respect gained in the First Test. All they could do was lessen the load of a heavy defeat, with another half-century from Shahriar Nafees, and a last-minute show of defiance from Mohammad Rafique, who smashed 65 off 53 balls, including three sixes in one over from Warne and three more off MacGill. But those two could afford such largesse; with 15 wickets between them, their leg-spin sealed Australia's clean sweep.
Man of the Match: J. N. Gillespie.
Man of the Series: J. N. Gillespie.