ADELAIDE (Reuters) - Matthew Hayden paid a glowing tribute to his Australian team mate Adam Gilchrist after he stunned the cricketing world on Saturday by announcing he was retiring from all forms of the game.
Gilchrist said he was quitting test cricket after the current match against India ends at Adelaide Oval on Monday and then one-day internationals at the end of the forthcoming triangular series against India and Sri Lanka.
Gilchrist has been facing increasing criticism over his performances in the past 12 months but Hayden said the Australian players had no idea he was planning to quit so soon.
“It’s massive news and it’s surprising news,” Hayden told reporters. “Adam informed everyone individually this morning. There was a lot of emotion. He’ll be deeply, deeply missed.
“Greatness is something we have aspired to be in the Australian cricket team and he’s fulfilled everything that has been asked of him.”
Hayden and Gilchrist have been team mates for almost decade. They open the batting together in one-day internationals and stand next to each other in the field with Gilchrist keeping wicket and Hayden at first slip.
Both are regarded among the game’s greats and Hayden said Gilchrist would be sorely missed.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have played with Adam for as long as I have. He’s held the baggy green in his hand with great pride, great passion, great discipline and a great work ethic,” Hayden said.
“The flamboyant nature equals the greats of Vivian Richards and some of the other calypso characters that we’ve seen over the years.
“It’s all been such an inspiring and stellar performance over such a long period of time.”
“He has played with remarkable skill, he has entertained and done so in a statesmanlike way, bonding cricketers throughout the world and changing cricketers throughout the world with how he has played the game.”
Gilchrist has revolutionised test cricket with his explosive lower-order batting, scoring at a career strike rate above 80, but several of his innings stand out.
He helped Australia pull off an incredible win over Pakistan in 1999 with an unbeaten 149 and briefly held the world record for thee fastest double century in tests when he made 204 not out off 212 balls against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2002.
Gilchrist provided at least two other great demonstrations of his extraordinary power with a century off 57 balls in the third Ashes test at Perth in 2006, missing the world record by one run, and a match-winning 149 in last year’s World Cup final.
Gilchrist, who is married with three children, is also regarded as one of the fairest players to embrace the game after his unselfish act of voluntarily walking during a World Cup semi-final in 2003.
“I am now ready and excited to move into the next phase of my life,” Gilchrist said.
“Thank you to all my team mates and support staff who have given me the most enjoyable, fun career anyone could hope for and to the many officials and opponents I have come across.”
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