Steve Waugh selects his greatest cricketer of the post-2000 era
One of the best ever captains in the sport’s history, Steve Waugh has revealed his pick for the most influential cricketer of the post-2000 era. Though the generation of players contained numerous iconic names in every discipline of the game, not surprisingly the Australian skipper opted for Adam Gilchrist for revolutionizing the role of wicket keeper batsman with his electric stroke play and efficient glove work.
During cricket.com.au's The Unplayable Podcast, the 51-year old elaborated on the reasoning behind his selection while promoting Captain’s Ride for charity. Although the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Glenn McGrath, Dale Steyn, Muthiah Muralidaran and Shane Warne also have a legitimate claim for the tag of the best ever player of the 21st century, Gilchrist got his erstwhile skipper’s nod for being a trendsetter in every sense.
Waugh felt, “I think the guy who’s changed the game the most you would have to say is Adam Gilchrist. I was lucky enough to be his captain. He definitely changed how wicket keepers are perceived now and if you do that, that means you’ve had a big impact on the game. He’s put a lot more pressure on wicket keepers because they’ve got to be great batsmen now, so they probably all hate him. To do that is pretty incredible.”
Debuting in 1999 under Waugh’s captaincy, Gilchrist gave an early indication of the things to come after he scored an 88-ball 81 from number seven in the opening Test against Pakistan at Brisbane. Incidentally, he had replaced local hero and long-time gloveman Ian Healy.
When the left-hander hung up his gloves following the 2008 Adelaide Test against India, he ended as the leading run-getter by a wicket keeper batsman aside from securing the most number of dismissals behind the stumps.
Though South African stalwart Mark Boucher eclipsed him to hold the most number of dismissals in Tests as well as across all formats and Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara overtook him to become the leading run scorer whilst keeping wickets across all three formats, Gilchrist’s 5570 Test runs from 96 matches at an average of 47.60 with 17 centuries remains a record for wicket-keeper batsmen.
Forming one-half of possibly the most destructive opening combinations in ODIs, the southpaw played a major role in Australia's hat-trick of World Cup titles spanning from 1999 to 2007. His dismissals/innings ratio of 2.178 in Tests and 1.679 in ODIs also remains a record among all wicket-keepers who have played at least 100 matches. Possessing dexterity from both behind the stumps as well in front of it, Gilchrist regularly makes all-time XIs selected from various quarters.