Gilly; a true gentleman bids farewell

Adam Gilchrists sudden retirement made international news on Australia Day, not just because he is one of the greatest cricketers of all time but because he was the greatest gentleman to ever play the gentlemans game. An enigma a man out of time yet blessed with perfect timing Gilchrist is just an ordinary bloke who brought something celestial to the hard-nosed professionalism of world sport. And that something was chivalry.

More than just a stellar sportsman, Gilly was a knight who shone in the midst of a horde of grimy gladiators. A sportsman seemingly unfazed by the hype, who knew it was a game and enjoyed it, applauding comrade and opponent alike. And his courtly manners were no hindrance to his performance. In fact when he was in full flight he wasnt a batsman, he was more like an effect of the weather; he was like watching the Aurora Australis the sweeping, swirling southern lights that dance across the sky. More than just a match winner, Gilly was a nation stopper. His 149 off just 104 balls in the last World Cup final, and his pummelling of the England attack last summer where he scored the second-fastest century in history, are just two instances where our sports loving country stopped, turned on the tele and roared along with the sell-out crowd.

We enjoyed him enjoying himself; he was and is the grande knight errant with a song in his heart and a smile on his face, charging toward the enemy, colours unfurled.

His decision to retire on Australia Day was perfectly appropriate, for Gilly, like very few other Australian sportsmen, makes us proud to be Australian. He proved that it was possible to be a decent bloke as well as a great player.

Gilchrist was and remains, at least for the next one-day series, the most feared batsman on the planet. Why? Because hes irrepressible; he cannot be contained. Gilly asks but one question of his opponents can you get me out? Because if they cant, its game over.

His sudden retirement, which brought a tear to many an eye, came because he felt he couldnt live up to our expectations anymore. The Australian cricket-watching public had become used to him providing immaculate service behind the stumps followed by a run-a-ball century on a failing wicket with only the tail-enders for support. The freakish thing is for over 90 Test matches thats pretty well what hes done.

So the man-who-would-walk has finally taken his last stroll out the gate of Test match cricket. Will we see his like again? As a player, probably not. He is, after all, like Shane Warne; a one off. However, unlike Warne, Gilchrist is a role model and a man with good manners. Great sporting performances can lift the supporters of a team into a state of rapture, but a humble act of fair play or the offering of a hand to lift a fallen opponent, can raise us all to a transcendent realm of purity and hope.

Thanks for the memories Adam.


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