Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Legendary Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist has admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of Twenty20 cricket when it was first introduced.
Despite his initial concerns, Gilchrist, who now commentates during the Big Bash League, revealed that as he saw the format grow, he knew that it would take the entire cricketing community by storm.
“My first thoughts on Twenty20 cricket was that it was mickey mouse cricket, it’s not real,” Gilchrist said on The Back Page Live. “We played England in a game at the SCG with a packed crowd. I was mic’d up for the commentators, we had fun.
“I remember Haydos (Matthew Hayden) coming down mid-pitch and saying, ‘This is the future.’ And I went, ‘No mate, this is terrible.’ It was not the real stuff.
“But I well and truly flipped. The more I played the more I realised that finally cricket had found it. And not many sports can do it, can find a tailored version that doesn’t compromise the game too much and find a modified version that still has the basic constitution of cricket, and the rules and numbers of players. And the skills required to be successful at it.
“Not many sports can do that and cricket’s found that, and that’s why Twenty20 is so popular.”
Gilchrist also reminisced about the first time he and his Australian team-mates went up for auction at the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“That first IPL (auction), we’d heard about it. It was a bit like I’d imagine what the World Series Cricket must have been like,” the 45-year-old said. “There were rumours about what it might be and players could earn a couple of hundred thousands dollars for six weeks of cricket.
“We were training at the MCG when the first auction results came out. I think I went for $600,000-$650,000 — which was unbelievable. And then word filtered out that Symo (Andrew Symonds) $1.2, $1.3 million, I think he was. I tell you what it made it hard for Symonds to concentrate on the high ball at fielding training.
“You glance across and standing next to him was Ricky Ponting, the No. 1 ranked batsman in the world at the time, he went for around $300,000, I say only.”
Meanwhile, Gilchrist also conceded that the meteoric rise of Twenty20 cricket may have played a part in the ongoing pay dispute between the Australian players and Cricket Australia.
“I just wonder, especially with this big pay dispute going on, and that’s not between the players, I know, but where the players started to sit and look at each other and really start to put numerical and dollar values on each other,” he said. “They obviously had their own expectations. So maybe that was the first sign of these little cracks appearing in the game between administrators and players and home boards and leagues around the world.
“I think my first Cricket Australia contract was $30,000. For me, that was life-changing at the time. That was before you even had to go out and hit a ball. But of course there were match payments and so on.
“(Players today) definitely have more swagger, more confidence, the players have formed their own company for their IP (intellectual property). So they’re saying July 1st you can’t promote the game with our image unless we’re on contract.
“That’s swagger, that’s knowing as players have alluded to, you can go to the IPL, you can go to the Caribbean league, to the English tournament. There’s Twenty20 tournaments everywhere.”