| Sourav Ganguly inspects the pitch at the Eden on Sunday
Calcutta: International cricket is all about handling pressure and meeting expectations. None do it better than the Australians, and therein lies the secret of their success in crunch games.
Tuesday’s tri-series final will be another occasion when the world champions’ indomitable status will be put to a severe test and Adam Gilchrist is already feeling the heat. With nearly a lakh rooting for the home team under lights at the Eden Gardens, it is not going to be easy for the visitors and Gilchrist even brought this up during a chat with Sachin Tendulkar the other day.
“I asked Sachin on how he takes it all. He remained silent and just gave me a wry smile…
“I think pressure comes from within. It’s doesn’t matter whether there are 100 people or a 100,000 people. We Australians traditionally handle pressure well as, at the end of the day, it’s going to be you versus the bowler. Purely from an event perspective, I’m thrilled that India are in the final because that has brightened the prospect of a full-house.
“My memories of the last time I was here aren’t very good. I failed in both innings and we got beaten (second Test of the 2000-01 series). Nevertheless, it was a great experience,” Gilchrist remarked after Sunday morning’s practice session.
The wicketkeeper-batsman felt that there was no real surprise in India making the final. “I saw bits and pieces of the match last night. It looked to me as if the Indians played really, really well with Sachin and (Virender) Sehwag laying the foundation. There was no real surprise in India making the final since they are the in-form team,” he added.
Gilchrist said the Aussies have put their successes in the tournament (five wins on the trot after losing to India in Gwalior) behind and were looking ahead. “Our ambition is to win the final. We’ve got to look ahead… reassess our position in the present context and back it with performance. It would be disappointing to walk away without a win in the final.”
Despite his phenomenal success as a batsman, Gilchrist considers his role as a wicketkeeper more important. “I think wicketkeeping is more challenging and involves more responsibility. To miss a chance is to get exposed. It can be more vital than getting bowled. It’s a wicketkeeper’s duty to snap up every chance. It’s a thankless job and entails a lot of hard work,” he explained.
Does he support India’s policy of going in with Rahul Dravid as ’keeper in one-dayers' “They have a specialist wicketkeeper in Parthiv Patel, but they are not playing him. Obviously, it depends on whether a team chooses to play a specialist ’keeper or sacrifice that position to bring in the balance factor in the side. It’s also important that the one who keeps wants the job and enjoys it.
“But I think if you go for another batsman or allrounder in lieu of a specialist wicketkeeper, it can be risky. Sometimes this policy pays off and sometimes it doesn’t, just like the one-day game,” Gilchrist explained.
With a 60-plus average in Tests, has he taken stock of his career' “Statistics has never been a mode of assessing my career. We don’t believe in all that. Playing together as a team and doing the job, that’s the foundation of Australian cricket.
“The players have good character and great team spirit. We really enjoy our cricket and that’s what we set out to do everytime we step onto the field.”
How does he wish to be remembered, as a batsman or a wicketkeeper' “I will just be happy to be remembered,” he said.
Gilchrist did not want to compare the current Australian side with teams of previous eras. “It’s difficult to compare eras. We’re never going to play Bradman’s team and there can be no basis of judgement. Whether the West Indies of the 80s was stronger is very hard to say. This is not something I want to speculate on.
“We simply play to our standards and focus on what levels we can achieve and want to get to.”