The southpaw struggled for form during the series, managing only 181 runs at 22.62 in five matches with a high score of 49*. Andrew Flintoff dismissed Gilchrist on four occasions in the series, the all-rounder’s ploy to bowl round the wicket working to perfection.
Looking back, Gilchrist said he “felt suffocated” by self-doubt in that series. “There’s one time that jumps right at me, and two examples that both happened in the 2005 Ashes,” he said. “That was my one time where I was absolutely being strangled by self-doubt and fear of failing.
“Just that it felt like the England team and Vaughany [Michael Vaughan], and Freddie [Flintoff] obviously, more so with the ball but even that whole attack, the field positioning, the tactic of coming around the wicket, which I don’t think was necessarily ever a well-thought-out clever tactic, they just came about [with it] and were quick enough to realise that, and latch onto it and make adjustments, and I wasn’t able to.
What a player this man was!
Adam Gilchrist was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2002, today he turns 48. pic.twitter.com/5mV2FLeceI
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 14, 2019
“That was the first time I remember going into games, particularly by the time we got up to the third Test at Manchester. Going there where we had to try and bat out that last day to salvage a draw. Just feeling so unnatural and fighting my natural instincts, but through fear of it not working. And then trying to just occupy the crease, and that was never going to work. So that probably was the primary time in my career when I really felt suffocated by some self-doubt and uncertainty.”
Kevin Pietersen, who was playing his debut Test series, scored a 187-ball-158 on the last day of the fifth Test to help England draw the match and regain the Ashes. That, according to Gilchrist, was a show of courage from Pietersen and it was his reluctance to curb the natural instincts that worked for him.
“And on the flip side of that,” Gilchrist continued, “it’s not just the guy that can bat the long, drawn-out innings to save a Test or set up a Test, the flamboyant ones need that mental strength [as well]. On the last day of that series, Kevin Pietersen’s ability to walk out there, to stroke with good fortune, he was dropped early, but then [the] preparedness to take it on and just basically take that day, that game and that trophy away from us, on the back of a hell lot of other good work from his teammates. That’s courage and we saw that through his whole career.”