Gilchrist takes jibe at Tendulkar in autobiography


Sydney : Former Australian vice-captain and wicket keeper Adam Gilchrist has taken a dig at Sachin Tendulkar in his autobiography “True Colours My Life”, being released next week, and questioned the Indian maestro’s honesty in supporting Harbhajan Singh during the controversial Sydney Test marred by an alleged racial slur.

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The retired wicketkeeper in his book has written that the biggest difference between Australia and India was that his former teammates left hostilities on the field while many of their antagonists, including Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, often snubbed their opponents.

Gilchrist surprisingly hinted at tensions with Tendulkar, revealing he was “hard to find for a changing room handshake after we have beaten India”. He also attacks off spinner Singh, who was accused of racism, and criticised both the Indian and Australian boards for their handling of the scandal, which he said drove “a stake through the entire summer”.

On the dramatic final moments of the Sydney Test when the last two batsmen, Anil Kumble and Ishant Sharma, walked off without any Australians offering a handshake, Gilchrist said: “We went into the Indian changing room and shook hands. Not all their players could be found, which points to another subtle cultural difference.”

He went on to add: “In the Australian mentality, we play it hard and are then quick to shake hands and leave it all on the field. Some of our opponents don’t do it that way. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, can be hard to find for a changing room handshake after we have beaten India. Harbhajan can also be hard to find.”

“I guess it’s a case of different strokes for different folks. But the criticism of us for not immediately shaking hands with Kumble and Sharma was unfair, and typified a moment when everything we did was wrong.”

Recalling the events of the day at Sydney which strained the relationship between the two cricketing teams, Gilchrist said: “The next thing I saw, Symonds said to Harbhajan something like, ‘Don’t touch him, you’ve got no friends out here.”‘

“The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness.”

Gilchrist, who is considered one of the fairer players in the aggressive Australia side, firmly believes that Harbhajan was guilty and said that India’s threat to abandon the tour mid-way was “a disgraceful act, holding the game to ransom unless they got their way”.

The book also reveals Gilchrist’s feelings about the malicious rumour about his private life during Australia’s 2002 tour of South Africa. He wrote how he received a telephone call from his manager telling him to turn on his laptop and check his emails. One of them linked to a website that featured an anonymous email saying his recently born son Harry had been fathered by his former teammate Michael Slater.

“At first I thought it was a prank, and had a chuckle,” Gilchrist wrote. But as he read further he “got a sick feeling in my stomach”. He immediately called his wife, Mel, back in Australia, who was extremely agitated and had to be “calmed down”.

Before taking the field in the first Test in Johannesburg, he spotted a huge banner reading: “Baby Gilly, who’s your daddy?” Next to it, another sign read: “Slater, Slater.”

“This was a disgusting thing to do,” Gilchrist writes. “But my initial feeling wasn’t outrage. It was more a vicious stab of paranoia. It set me thinking: ‘Is the whole world talking about it behind my back? Are my teammates talking about it?’ ”

When he went out to bat in Johannesberg , Gilchrist was “in a terrible state” but he went on to score an unbeaten 204 not out, racking up the fastest Test double century in history. “This was the first time I cried on a cricket field,” he said.