Adam Gilchrist talks the highs and lows of Big Bash cricket
AS A kid, Adam Gilchrist knew for sure he was going to be a cricket star.
Long before he would grow up to pull on a Baggy Green – and earn the tag of the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman in the history of the game – little Gilly would dash off autographs for his schoolmates, bragging he would make it big in the sport.
It’s a surprisingly cocky anecdote from the man known for his good sportsmanship, famously walking from the crease when he thought he was out, regardless of the umpire’s decision.
Boyhood brashness was never part of his natural game – whether during his 16-year firstclass cricketing career or in retirement, when he published his memoirs before taking up a microphone for Channel 10’s Big Bash coverage last year.
When you hear about his one attempt at swagger, with co-commentator Sir Vivian Richards, you understand why.
“Sir Viv is the king of cool. I got a bit reckless and tried to high-five him on screen, missed and got my microphone all caught up. I sort of hit him in the shoulder and as a career move, that wasn’t one of my better ones. Of course, the team replayed it about 10 times, so this summer I’ll leave the cool to Viv and just stick to my job description, which is to talk about the game and do a bit of presenting.”
It’s this self-deprecation and camaraderie between Ten’s T20 commentary team which brought the spirit of this fast-paced form of the game into loungerooms around the country.
While diehards complain it is the pop song to Test matches’ classical showcase of cricket, Gilchrist happily sings the praises of Big Bash.
“What I love about the Big Bash is they’ve formed some real club rivalries, even within a city so you’ve got local derbies now. Every single match has points riding on it, there are incentives for the players and the supporters, so it keeps it live and real and not just going through the motions.”
At a time when TV viewers have increasingly limited attention spans, Big Bash is perfect snack-size programming, Gilchrist says.
“To invite new people to watch the game, sit them down for five days and then you might not get a result (as with Test matches), it’s a pretty hard thing to do. But if you say, ‘ Watch T20 for a couple of hours, you should find it entertaining’ it’s a little more accessible.”
Reuniting with old cricket buddies, including former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, batsman Mark Waugh and paceman Damian Fleming, to launch the coverage for Ten last year proved “a new frontier for all of us”, Gilchrist says.
“It was like a bunch of good mates catching up every night to talk about cricket. When that wasn’t the thing to talk about, we’d usually just take the mickey out of each other and that worked pretty well.”
T20 BIG BASH
THURSDAY ADELAIDE STRIKERS v MELBOURNE STARS, 7.30PM, TEN; FRIDAY SYDNEY SIXERS v MELBOURNE RENEGADES, 7.30PM, TEN; SATURDAY, MELBOURNE STARS v HOBART HURRICANES, 7PM, TEN
King of cool: Sir Viv Richards