Gilchrist recalls his greatest century | cricketnetwork.com

Gilchrist recalls his greatest century

11 August 2017

Gilchrist salutes in Fatullah, 2006 // Getty

Forgotten amongst his career highlights, a hard-fought Fatullah ton that saved Australia from dire straits has a special place in the Aussie legend's heart

Australia’s second-ever Test tour of Bangladesh later this month will inevitably spark memories of an unforgettable batting performance on their only previous journey to the Asian nation for a Test series more than a decade ago.

That, of course, being the barely-believable double-century scored by nightwatchman Jason Gillespie in the second Test of their 2006 campaign that, 11 years later, the former Test quick is joyously willing to recall in intricate detail, as he was when asked by cricket.com.au six weeks ago.

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While Gillespie's heroics in Chittagong are the most easily-recalled highlight of that tour for most cricket fans, the performance of Test teammate Adam Gilchrist just a week earlier has been all but forgotten by even the most ardent Australian supporters.

Even though Gilchrist, the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman in the history of the game, says his century in the first Test of that series was the best of his distinguished career.

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The Australian side that arrived in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka in April 2006 was mighty in reputation but dangerously low on motivation and energy.

Their first ever visit to cricket's newest Test nation was the final stop on a gruelling 18-month period on the road that had yielded a historic Test series win in India, two unblemished home summers, successful tours of New Zealand and South Africa as well as a memorable and painful Ashes defeat in the UK.

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And were violently thrust to within inches of an embarrassing defeat when they were reduced to 6-93 in reply to Bangladesh's impressive first innings of 427.

It was at this point that Gilchrist took up the attack, and takes up our story now.

"We had this long hard summer, we went to South Africa, had this really tight series there that we just got over the line," Gilchrist recalled on Triple M radio earlier this year.

Gilchrist drives during his Fatullah marathon // Getty
Gilchrist drives during his Fatullah marathon // Getty

"Then we tagged on a little two-Test tour to Bangladesh thinking, 'We’ll get over there, we’ll wipe those muppets, they’ll be useless'.

"They ambushed us badly. I walked to the crease ... and it was panic time."

With his side more than 330 in arrears when Shane Warne became the sixth Australian batsman to depart, Gilchrist turned to his tail-enders to produce the kind of steel and determination that was the underpin Gillespie's remarkable innings a week later.

And Gillespie gave the hosts a small preview of what was inexplicably to come by holding firm with Gilchrist for 26.5 overs while Brett Lee (18.3 overs) and even numbers 10 and 11 – Stuart Clark and Stuart MacGill (12 overs combined) – helped to reduce the inevitable first-innings deficit.

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While his bowlers blocked, prodded and poked at one end, Gilchrist did his best to minimise the damage and then swing the momentum of the match away from the brave but inexperienced hosts.

With 15 fours and six sixes to his name by the time he was the last man out for 144, Gilchrist had given his side a fighting chance of avoiding a defeat that had been unthinkable just days earlier.

And when Warne, Gillespie and co routed the hosts for just 148 in their second innings, the comeback was well and truly on.

It was later completed, albeit with more than a wobble, thanks to an unbeaten 118 from skipper Ricky Ponting that saw the tourists escape with a three-wicket win and their reputation intact.

Gillespie and Gilchrist put on 73 for the eighth wicket // Getty
Gillespie and Gilchrist put on 73 for the eighth wicket // Getty

From the point of seemingly no return to a successful pursuit of 307 in the fourth innings, it's little wonder Gilchrist rates his performance in that match so highly, even if Gillespie’s innings a week later is ultimately is the lasting memory of that tour.

"I managed to have a couple of allies stay with me in the lower order (and) I got to 100," Gilchrist said.

"And it was my slowest most hard fought 100 in my career."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad (preliminary): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mahmudullah Riyad, Liton Kumar Das, Mominul Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Subhashish Roy, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sanjamul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Mohammad Saifuddin, Anamul Haque, Abul Hasan Raju, Al Amin Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Muktar Ali, Tanbir Haider, Saqlain Sajib, Shafiul Islam.


11-17 August Australia pre-tour training camp, Darwin


18 August Australia arrive


22-23 August Tour match, TBC


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong




About the Writer

 @martinsmith9994
@martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.