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  Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
By hook or by crook
Adam Gilchrist desptaches a short ball at Lord's
Head still, swing through, it's six all the way
BBC Sport Online profiles NatWest Series final match-winner Adam Gilchrist.

The cover drive may perhaps be the most aesthetically pleasing stroke.

But for those with a taste for savagery, there is nothing to equal the sight of a batsman feasting on a short-pitched delivery with a full-blooded hook shot.

Turn back the clock and there is West Indies captain Clive Lloyd lifting the ball into the stands at Lord's during his century in the World Cup final.

Australia's Adam Gilchrist may not have matched Lloyd for distance during Saturday's NatWest Series final against Pakistan, but he lost nothing by comparison in the ease of his despatch.

One could almost see the glint in Gilchrist's eye as Pakistan all-rounder Abdur Razzaq twice dropped short and there was an air of inevitability about the outcome.

The hook shot can be fraught with danger.

Clive Lloyd led West Indies to victory in the inaugural World Cup final
Lloyd dealt roughly with the Aussies in 1975

Take on a bowler with express pace and a batsman can find himself with either a ringing headache as the ball thuds into his helmet, or caught at long leg off a top edge.

But that is all part of the challenge for the likes of Gilchrist.

His innings of 76 not out off 93 balls in a nine-wicket win over Pakistan came just two days after he took England's attack apart at The Oval with an unbeaten 80.

He found the boundary on 14 occasions during that innings, but England can take some consolation in that he never managed to clear the ropes.

Gilchrist now has six one-day hundreds and 22 fifties to his credit, not to mention a Test batting average of 47.33.

Not bad for a man whose initial selection by Australia, as replacement for the long-serving Ian Healy, was not greeted with unanimous approval.

Adam Gilchrist deals with a half volley
Gilchrist can play off the front foot as well

His wicket-keeping may still leave room for improvement, but it is as a batsman that Gilchrist is one of the most thrilling sights in world cricket.

An innings of 149 not out against Pakistan at Hobart in November 1999 enabled Australia to reach 369 for six - the third best fourth innings run chase in Test history.

It moved Rodney Marsh to describe it as "one of the great Test innings, certainly be a wicket-keeper/batsman".

But Gilchrist surpassed that at Bombay in March this year when an astonishing innings of 122 off 112 balls, including four sixes and 15 fours, helped Australia beat India by 10 wickets.

He reached three figures from 84 deliveries and only Jack Gregory's 67-ball effort against South Africa in 1921 has come quicker for Australia.

Both knocks came from the middle order berth he normally occupies in Test cricket, but he also relishes the chance open the batting in one-day cricket.

Adam Gilchrist meets the crowd in India
A growing fan club

His strike rate of over 89 in 119 one-day internationals is similar to that of Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya - perhaps his only equal when it comes to taking advantage of the first 15 overs.

Whether Gilchrist's devil may care approach will remain when he is elevated - as seems certain - to the captaincy remains to be seen.

He has already led them to a Test win over West Indies when Steve Waugh was injured and as vice-captain, he is the heir apparent.

For now, however, the message from cricket fans from around the world is simple and straighforward.

"Keep on hooking".

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