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The Age

Gilchrist to rest as dual role takes its toll

Date: 17/01/2006
Words: 459
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 2
AUSTRALIAN selectors hope Adam Gilchrist's form trough is exclusively fatigue-related and not the result of the deeper, mental scars that dogged him in the Ashes series.

On the same day as Gilchrist was cited for dissent, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns announced the opening batsman would be rested for Australia's next two limited-overs matches.

Brad Haddin has been called into the Australian one-day squad in his place for the matches against South Africa and Sri Lanka in Melbourne and Sydney respectively.

The decision to rest Gilchrist was unrelated to the dissent charge, levelled against him after Australia's tense five-wicket loss to South Africa on Sunday night.

He will face the match referee, Jeff Crowe, on his return to the Australian team in Adelaide.

For Gilchrist, these are troubling times. With scores of 3, 8, 0, 13 and 0 in his past five one-day innings, including a first-ball duck against the South Africans on Sunday, the once indomitable force atop Australia's order is appearing anything but of late.

Hohns was hopeful that an extended break would help Gilchrist rediscover the hard-hitting form that once struck fear into the hearts of opposition bowling attacks.

"We are as concerned (about his form) as he is," Hohns said yesterday. "He is a player we look to preserve at all costs. He is an absolute matchwinner, and that is something we would like to continue for as long as possible."

Former Test wicketkeepers Ian Healy and Tim Zoehrer believed that Gilchrist's form slump was due to fatigue, the demands of keeping and opening the batting for the one-day side taking their toll on his 34-year-old frame.

Those around the Australian team hope Healy and Zoehrer are correct because, if that isn't the case, Australia's greatest keeper-batsman is in serious decline or still struggling to overcome the mental scars inflicted by Andrew Flintoff during the Ashes.

Zoehrer was adamant that Australia's selectors had to explore every measure to help Gilchrist rediscover his form before next year's World Cup, even if that meant increasing Haddin's workload as back-up.

"That idea has merit to it (because Gilchrist) has double the workload of most players," Zoehrer said.

Gilchrist's Test predecessor, Healy, supported the idea of resting the Australian keeper, whose work behind the stumps he recently lauded. "It's probably a year where they can nurse him a bit and that could regenerate his performance," Healy said.

"It might help him get his form going and then they have a good off-season, which will let him rest and clear the decks." -- With AAP

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