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5 batsmen whose careers saw a downslide towards the end

Himank Bhanot
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Adam Gilchrist batting in his last series vs India (2007/08)

No contemporary wrote more fondly about Viv Richards than Imran Khan. While mincing no words in appreciation of his genius, Imran, much in line with his own philosophy, also remarked that Richards should have retired in 1987, the year he felt the West Indian was still in his pomp.

It’s very difficult for cricketers (and sportspersons in general) to identify the tipping point in their careers. That is perhaps the reason why most players call time on their careers in the midst of a downslide; they’re unable to foresee the trough which inevitably follows a high.

In this article, we look at five batsmen who prolonged their careers in the expectation of a reversal in form that was never to be:

#1 Adam Gilchrist

Widely regarded as a once in a generation cricketer, Gilchrist could have made it to the then dominant Australian team purely as a batsman, which is saying something given the wealth of talent they had back then. But such was Gilchrist’s dominance in his domain that he never missed a Test match in his career (effectively putting the lid over prospective keeper-batsmen/batsmen-keepers who ever wished to be given a baggy green).

With respect to wicket-keeper stats, Gilchrist scored almost 2300 runs more than the next placed Mark Boucher, and his century tally (17) is also more than twice the number scored by Sangakkara and Flower (7 each; although in fewer Tests). 

Splitting his career in two (not equal) parts shows that Gilchrist was at the peak of his powers until the pre-2005 Ashes period. Till then, he had almost 4500 runs in 68 Tests at an insanely high average of 55.65. 

But the 2005 Ashes had many casualties and Gilchrist was one of them; from the Ashes until the end of his career, the southpaw only scored two more centuries in 28 Tests and averaged only 30.21. However, he had his moments even in this stretch, scoring the second fastest Test century, against the hapless England in Perth, but that was it. It was, perhaps, the expectation of a Gilly miracle that kept him going in the Test side for a few matches too many.

4 Nov’99 – 20 Jul’05689717445255.65204*1520
21 Jul’05  – 24 Jan’0828403111830.2214426
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