Gilchrist, leader par excellence

His hundred on Tuesday night at the HPCA stadium turned the clock back in style, reminding us of the destructive Gilchrist who once tarnished bowlers’ reputations mercilessly. But it’s unfair to forget Gilchrist the leader amidst that overwhelming flow of nostalgia.

Kings XI had started their campaign in IPL IV on a resounding note, even reaching the top briefly. The tide soon turned in stunning fashion as they lost five games in a row, leaving them languishing among the laggards.

The spate of defeats meant Kings XI had to win their last five league matches to stay in contention for a play-off berth. Such a situation sometimes can squeeze the spirit out of a team. Here, the shrewd captain in Gilchrist made a timely appearance.

The Australian great stayed close to his team-mates, urging and wheedling them to remain focused on the job without getting disheartened about its tough nature. Kings XI coach Michael Bevan, one time colleague of Gilchrist in the Australian team, explained the significance of Gilchrist’s leadership under trying circumstances.

“In the Kings XI management, we are quite aware of Gilly’s qualities as a leader of men. He has this ability to motivate the whole bunch with his performance and presence. That’s exactly why we picked him up in the auction,” Bevan explained.

Gilchrist’s opening partner Paul Valthaty too gave reasons for his captain’s effectiveness. “He has this ability to get the support of the entire team. When we bat together, he often comes and talks to me. He can be a calming influence on you, and he sets the example with his work ethics and commitment to cricket,” Valthaty said.

Gilchrist knows a thing or two about keep the squad motivated in tough times. Under the Aussie, then defending champions Deccan Chargers had to go through a heart-stopping last-minute race to reach the semifinals in 2010. “Ideally, I would not have liked to be in this situation every year. But then sometimes you will end up in such situations in a tournament like this and as a skipper, the only solution is to keep your mind clear,” Gilchrist said.

But how does he manage to keep the players a composed lot? “It’s not like we stay back and share a drink every day. We all were disappointed to lose five games in a row after beginning IPL IV in fine fashon. This tournament can go up and down like that.

“I just try to keep the atmosphere in the team buoyant and not too flat because you can feel when you get crushed, and emotions can go to a low level. I told the guys to enjoy the success when it comes without getting carried away, and that’s my thinking. We came to a point when we had to win a lot of games, and that frees up the mind as you have no other option. It adds a certain sharpness to thinking as well,” Gilchrist detailed.
Kings XI have already won four straight games, with a match against Chargers remaining. They have a chance to sneak into the play-offs if they manage to pull off a win against the Hyderabad outfit, but Gilchrist the skipper has already scored some personal points.

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