Following their defeat in the game against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday, Kings XI Punjab crashed out of the tournament. It was also the last time we saw their skipper Adam Gilchrist in action at the T20 league; the batsman himself confessed to this after the match. The former Aussie left hander ended up with reasonable figures in the league – his 67 games fetching him 1775 runs at an average of 27.73 and strike-rate of over 140. In addition, he also scored two hundreds and 10 fifties. However, Gilchrist’s contribution to the IPL goes beyond figures.
At a time when the spot-fixing saga is threatening to spoil the image of the T20 competition, it’s the perfect opportunity to look back at the man who remained an epitome of integrity and cheerfulness throughout his five-year association with the league. Like during his playing career for Australia, Gilchrist remained like a breath of fresh air on the playing field. As editions went by, his prowess waned. Still, his unbeaten half-century in the penultimate game of the season was a good indication of the fact that he can still contribute. However, age has caught up with him for sure. Sitting out for most part of the season due to a hamstring injury, Gilchrist admitted that he wasn’t missing not playing the game, and indication that his time was up. He may or may not return as coach next year, but Gilchrist’s charming presence on the field will be definitely missed.
The Aussie great’s biggest achievement during his association with the IPL was undoubtedly leading Deccan Chargers to the title during the second edition of the league hosted in South Africa. Taking over the reins from VVS Laxman, under who Chargers finished last in the opening edition, Gilchrist inspired a team devoid of super stars. With only Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma among the big names in the team, Gilchrist, with his charisma, had the power to turn around a team of non-performers into match-winners. He himself came up with game changing efforts with the bat on occasions. However, it was his refreshing attitude towards the sport and his never-say-diespirit that forced Kings XI Punjab to buy Gilchrist over at the 2011 auction. And although, Punjab failed to win that edition, the franchise must not have regretted their action. They shouldn’t have either.
Punjab had finished last in the 2010 season, and there weren’t too many hopes from them going into a new season. In fact, there was uncertainty over even Punjab’s participation in the edition following battles between franchises and the Indian board. Amidst all this, Gilchrist walked in as captain and managed to lead the side to seven wins in fourteen games, a significant improvement on their 2010 record, when they won only four.
Gilchrist remained honest even in his off-field chats, candidly admitting that a few teams were being allowed to dominate the league. It will be this freshness of attitude and earnestness that the IPL will sorely miss.
- By a Cricket Analyst