Adam Gilchrist, speaking on The Pitch Side Expert Podcast, recalled the time he was booed by the crowd at the Gabba on his Test debut because he was replacing local favourite Ian Healy in the national team.
Gilchrist started his first-class career with New South Wales but with Phil Emery donning the gloves for NSW, he moved to Western Australia. However, he wasn’t well-received by the WACA members and the crowd initially.
“Tim Zoehrer, a former international cricketer, a great servant to Western Australia and indeed Australian cricket,” he said. “They flicked him, the state selectors and put an unknown New South Welshman in there, by the name of Adam Gilchrist. I copped a barrage from the crowd, very parochial West Australian crowd. Even the members were giving it to me, they weren’t sure what was going on but I remember at the time, just thinking, ‘I don’t need to be Tim Zoehrer.’
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 20, 2020
“He was a very athletic, attacking batsman down at number seven, scored hundreds in first-class cricket. But I remember just thinking that I don’t need to be him, all I need to do is the foundation of hard work and earn the respect of, first of all, my peers within the team, and hopefully, if you get that, that would probably mean that you start to garner some respect from the crowd. So that was the first step.”
The southpaw had to face a similar treatment when he was promoted to the national Test team, where he replaced Ian Healy. Playing his first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane, Gilchrist faced a barrage of boos from the crowd, who wished to see local hero Healy in the team.
“All of a sudden,” Gilchrist continued, “a couple of years later I found myself in a very similar situation with Ian Healy, the one that’s been left out at the expense of me coming in. And I walk out at the Gabba and get booed all the way out on the Gabba. I idolised Ian Healy. I loved watching him play, my early teenage years, just observing him and just dreaming of being in that position.
“Adam Gilchrist is a player who should be remembered as being even better than his statistics suggest – a big statement, but a true one.”| Ian Healyhttps://t.co/OWFjN65XHa
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 14, 2019
“So when I got there I just thought, ‘Right, I don’t need to be him. But just learn everything I can from him and try to, again, garner that respect from the teammates and then hopefully the crowd.’ So I was just trying to be the best wicketkeeper that was available for the team at that time, and I had enormous support from the team that was around me.”
Eventually, Gilchrist shut down his critics in style and scored 5,570 runs in 96 Tests at 47.60 and 9,619 runs in 287 ODIs at 35.89, revolutionising the role of a wicketkeeper-batsman in the sport.