Adam Gilchrist believes Australia might have been better served by using the eight-day break between Tests in India to escape from cricket – and even get out of the country.
The captain of Australia’s only series-winning team here in more than 40 years, Gilchrist said the ploy had worked a treat for the successful touring party of 2004.
The Australians used a seven-day gap between the second and third matches to take off in their own directions, to Singapore, Mumbai, Goa and other destinations. They then regathered in Nagpur and won by 342 runs to clinch an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Michael Clarke’s side, by contrast, remained together in what turned out, due to a defeat in Hyderabad inside four days, to be an eight-day break before the third Test in Mohali.
They were given two free days but, aside from the captain who travelled to Delhi for promotional commitments and also took in the Taj Mahal with his wife Kyly, the 16-man squad stayed at the team hotel in Chandigarh. Some played golf or visited the zoo, and some – including Matthew Wade, of course – played basketball.
The difference between Clarke’s team and Gilchrist’s is Australia was 1-0 up at this point nine years ago and heading into Thursday’s third Test trails 2-0. There would undoubtedly have been outrage at home had coach Mickey Arthur told them to rack off for a week.
But the game’s greatest wicketkeeper-batsman, the captain of Mohali-based Indian Premier League side Kings XI Punjab, believes there is merit in getting away.
”The boys jumped into the nets [in Hyderabad] I believe half-an-hour or an hour after the game finished and the next day they were in there again,” Gilchrist said.
”Sometimes it gets to a point where you do need that time to clear your head and get away from it. India is that sort of venue that for all the wonderful things about India – the intrigue, and the fascinating country that it is – I find it is a place that becomes all-consuming and not just in a cricket sense.
”It really consumes every part of your day and your night and your life, such is the passion and the intensity of the place. So to get away and make a clean break for the purposes of freshening up for a new challenge there, I found it extremely beneficial and I think our team prospered from that in ’04.”
Gilchrist, who stood in for the injured Ricky Ponting in 2004, flew to Singapore in that break to see his family, while others took off for Goa or Mumbai.
”It really added a freshness to the tour and gave us the spark that we needed to get us back into that tour,” he said. ”I think that was of vital importance. Yes, we were 1-0 up but the Chennai Test, which was our second Test, was a really hard-fought, close match in the balance going into the last day and then it washed out.
”When we got back together it just felt like a new tour, a fresh, new beginning where we were obviously aware of the scoreline but catching up with each other was exciting.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.