Adam Gilchrist says the Australia team may have been affected by the reactions following the Sydney Test, and he has hit out strongly at the criticism directed towards the players. Australia won the controversy-marred SCG match but lost the subsequent Test to India in Perth, which many believed might have been due to the team's changed attitude on the field.
The loss brought to an end their record-equalling run of 16 consecutive Test wins, and was their first defeat at home since 2003. "No one told us to walk out there and settle down and become friendly on the field," Gilchrist told the Adelaide radio station 5AA.
"Maybe subconsciously guys were a bit more aware of all the hysteria that was created, which I will happily go on the record and say, I think was way over the top. We won a game of cricket [but] the way we were hung out I felt like we were the ones who had started some sort of riot that had caused the deaths of people. I know it's sport and it's serious business [but] I really felt we were hung out to dry."
Gilchrist warned things would be different in the fourth and final Test in Adelaide. "Everyone will have settled down a little bit emotionally, mentally preparing for the game," he said. "All those side issues have pretty much disappeared now, so the guys can just focus on cricket."
He said the team's mellowed behaviour in the Perth Test wasn't intentional. "We didn't make a conscious effort to change the way we play. If me shaking hands with Anil Kumble after he takes his 600th Test wicket ... if that's being too soft, then I'm sorry, I'm a soft sportsman.
"I don't think I am. I'd like to think I'm going to be consistent in those type of things throughout my career. I think we'll have a bit more clarity in our mind now because of all that week of supposed turmoil has gone."
Gilchrist himself came under fire for his appeal for caught-behind against Rahul Dravid in India's second innings in Sydney. Umpire Steve Bucknor ruled Dravid out, but replays showed the ball brushed the pad. "I will appeal if I don't know and think it's a chance of being out," he said. "I will ask the umpire. Just because I walk and I openly admit it and do it ... I don't lose the right to ask the umpire when I'm fielding if it's out. If he says it's not out, I'll accept that.
"The one on Dravid, I was behind [the stumps and] I was close, but the angle I had, the ball came through, there was a good noise and bat and pad are close together. We haven't got the replay. So I appeal and I ask Steve Bucknor, who admits now that it was wrong, that it was blatantly wrong. I've been hammered a lot for walking; people telling me I'm doing the wrong thing. I'm not going to start calling blokes back when I'm fielding, believe me."
He said the current team was often being compared to previous Australian sides, and that they are under scrutiny for both too much or too little of sledging. "I think, really, we're living in a stereotypical-type image of Australian cricketers from the last 20-25 years," he said. "We came out after the Ashes in 2005 and were told we were too friendly, that we didn't sledge enough and didn't engage in the battle enough.
Everybody said, 'That's not the way Australian cricket is. For 20 or 30 years it's been hardnosed ... [and] you sledge and get in their face.' That's the way we feel we've done it, but I guess whenever someone deems it's gone over the edge then they come down pretty heavily."
Gilchrist was also amazed at the amount of discussion on the topic of sledging and felt there's more talk of it happening off the field than on it. "There is much, much more talk about sledging than actual sledging going on. It's so minimal. It's just that cameras replay it over and over again if two guys exchange two or three words. It's repeated a number of times and a lot of attention is drawn to it. There's very, very little of it. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but there is such a little amount it's unbelievable the interest in it. I just can't believe the interest in so-called sledging."