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Gilchrist: Fatullah Test hundred my greatest ever innings

  • Published at 05:01 am August 12th, 2017
Gilchrist: Fatullah Test hundred my greatest ever innings
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 match 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. 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. 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. 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.
"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 host 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 Nos 10 and 11 – Stuart Clark and Stuart MacGill (12 overs combined) – helped to reduce the inevitable first-innings deficit. 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 host. 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9Eg5h7OwEg And when Warne, Gillespie and Co routed the host 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 tourist escape with a three-wicket win and their reputation intact. 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."
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