The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious scepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year cricket.com will induct 15 such legends. Our third "Cricket.com Hall of Fame" inductee is the dashing left-handed opener from Australia - Adam Gilchrist.
Loud and urgent taps on the wicket to go with a stern look on his face while gearing up to face the bowler, Adam Gilchrist was the worst nightmare for even the best in the world. Ready to bludgeon from ball one, no length was awkward and no bowler was fast enough for the tall left-hander. Ever since his arrival on the professional circuit, the role of a wicketkeeper has never been the same.
Famously known to be a ‘walker’ because of not waiting for an umpire’s decision and walking whenever he feels he was out, Gilchrist will be remembered as an IPL legend for resurrecting a side that ended with a wooden spoon to championship glory.
Auctioned at 700,000 USD, Gilchrist was part of the now terminated franchise – Deccan Chargers - in the inaugural season of the IPL. Touted as the favorites with other powerhouse players in the squad like Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs and Shahid Afridi, the franchise won only two matches and finished at the bottom of the pile. However, Gilchrist finished as their top-scorer with 436 runs at 33.5. This included a 42-ball century against Mumbai Indians, the then fastest IPL 100 until Yusuf Pathan’s knock off 37 balls two seasons later. He also led the team in eight of the 14 games after their captain, VVS Laxman, suffered a wrist injury.
A full-time captain of the franchise in the second season in 2009, Gilchrist inspired the team to a title victory after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final. He was the top-scorer of the franchise for second season in a row, scoring 495 runs at 30.9 and finished the tournament only a solitary place behind his compatriot Matthew Hayden in the chase for the orange cap. Leading from the front, he smashed a 35-ball 85 in the semi-final to knock the table toppers Delhi Daredevils out of the competition.
Termed as ‘a great cricket brain’ by the coach of the side in 2009, Darren Lehmann, Gilchrist motivated the side to focus on the moment and fly under the radar. As an experienced Aussie and an occasional captain for them, Gilchrist’s other contribution to the league was to manage young players like Rohit Sharma - whom he appointed as his vice-captain – and inspire them to become successful cricketers.
The next phase of his IPL career began in 2011, after Kings XI Punjab picked him for a whopping 900,000 USD. His second captaincy stint lasted till the 2013 season but was not as successful as the first. One of the least successful IPL franchises, KXIP failed to make the top-4 even once under him. During this period, Gilchrist though provided one more demonstration of his ability after hitting a 55-ball 106 against RCB in the 2011 season.
The man who spent his entire career collecting balls behind the stumps or thumping those in front of them decided to test his arm in the last match of his IPL career. With the opposition 9-down, Gilchrist ended the game by picking a wicket off his first ball – his only one in the IPL. What followed was an uncharacteristic, slightly awkward rendition of the Gangnam style and a name in the record books as the only bowler in the IPL with a bowling average of naught and a strike-rate of unity.
* The 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' only takes into account of players who have announced their retirement from IPL and last played in the 2018 season.