Still enjoying the game

“There is no better place for me to enjoy than on the cricket field. I simply love to be there,” the 37-year-old Adam Gilchrist says as V. V. Subrahmanyam talks to him.

He adores the great West Indian cricketer of yesteryear — Sir Vivian Richards. And, by the standards he has set for himself, it should not be a surprise if Adam Gilchrist himself turns out to be the favourite of many cricketers like the Pakistan pace ace Wasim Akram.

Richards and Gilchrist are two outstanding batsmen in recent memory who have not been overawed by bowlers and who have made a mockery of field placements. At 37, Gilchrist is in charge of Deccan Chargers’ campaign in the inaugural Champions League, an indication of his superb fitness level and the hunger to be a part of the game which made him so famous around the world.

So, when the Australian great, Gilchrist, says he is open to experimentation it is a proof of his broad-mind and the desire to keep changing with the times. “Yes, well when someone like Sachin (Tendulkar) says something, one has to listen to him. He is so highly regarded.

"He is a legend and when he speaks on such lines (splitting the number of overs in one-dayers to ward off the challenge from the T-20 format) he knows what he means,” the stumper remarked even as his team prepared for the Champions League.

And, he has a fond wish, too. “I sincerely hope that Test cricket remains sacred. It should remain a masterpiece and should never be tampered with,” says the affable Gilchrist.

Reflecting on the Australian comeback in international cricket with the Champions Trophy triumph in South Africa, Gilchrist is really pleased.

“Well, I am really delighted that there is a natural progression as far as wicketkeeping is concerned since I have retired,” he says with a broad smile.

“First, Brad Haddin was impressive and when he was injured, Paine looked equally good. This is a wonderful sight,” says Gilchrist.

“Quite naturally, any transition phase will have its lows. Hopefully, they are a thing of the past under the dynamic leadership of Ricky Ponting. I do believe that the team is on the right route to the pinnacle thanks to the innovative efforts of the coach Tim Nielsen too,” says the Chargers captain, who played 96 Tests between 1999 and 2008, scoring 5570 runs, including 17 centuries, and 287 ODIs, scoring 9619 runs, including 16 hundreds.

“It was a fact that some key positions were available after some of the big names retired in Australian cricket. Coinciding with this, many teams have become very challenging at the highest level. Yet, the fact that Australia has come back strongly after the disappointing Ashes Series loss in England this summer by winning the seven-match one-day series (6-1) and then capping it with the Champions Trophy victory is something typical of Australian cricket itself,” he explains. “There is plenty of depth in talent back home because of the wonderful domestic structure. If you see, most of them who represent Australia in international cricket have already played at least five years of tough first-class cricket and in a way are ready for the big challenges,” he points out.

What keeps him going? “There is no better place for me to enjoy than on the cricket field. I simply love to be there,” Gilchrist asserts. Maybe this is the reason why he is one of the most sought-after players even at his age. “I am enjoying the game. And, I don’t think I have to change my natural, aggressive style of batting even now,” were the parting comments of the flamboyant opener.