Quadriplegic inspired Gilchrist to script cricket history
New Delhi: Not many may know, but it was a few words of motivation from a quadriplegic patient that inspired Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist to lead his team to a historic Test series win in 2004 after 35 years on Indian soil. Gilchrist, who is leading Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL), said it was an interaction with a paraplegic patient Perry Cross that motivated him in 2004 to lead a team sans Ricky Ponting to triumph on Indian soil, which the invincible Australian team had termed as their final frontier.
On Friday, the eve of his team`s clash against Delhi Daredevils, the former Australian captain spent a few moments with Cross, who is undergoing stem cell treatment under Geeta Shroff at the Nutech Mediworld in the capital.
Cross, who hails from Brisbane, became paralysed neck down during a rugby tackle in 1994 at the age of 19.
He is today a world renowned motivational speaker.
Recalling his association with Cross, Gilchrist said: "I still remember a night in July in Sydney when coach John Buchanan invited Perry for a motivational talk after a team dinner during our 2004 series with Sri Lanka.
"Perry was kind enough to share his brave story with the Australian cricket team. I was touched by his words `knowledge is faith` and since then we have developed a strong bond."
"Perry is a remarkable man. His positive outlook on life is an example to us all," Gilchrist told IANS here.
He added: "Perry`s key principles of knowledge, courage and faith have not only helped him through his daily challenges but also touched the lives of those whom he has addressed. He is truly inspirational."
During the 2004 series of India, he used to write "Knowlede is Faith" on a piece of paper and put it up in the dressing room for his teammates to see, Gilchrist recalled.
"I made sure that I stuck that piece of paper in the dressing room. It 2001 we had a near-miss and we used the knowledge of that loss to win the series on Indian soil three years later," he said.
"From the moment Ricky (Ponting) got hit on the thumb at Edgbaston in the Champions Trophy, I realised in all likelihood I`d be taking the reins to captain that tour. From that moment on I started to get nervous. I had a few self doubts and even considered not taking it on. But Perry` words cleared all my doubts," the star player added.
"To captain that team for the bulk of the series and be part of the leadership group was the highest point and greatest achievement of my career personally."
Cross, a Christopher Reeve lookalike, also wished Gilchrist best of luck in the 2011 IPL.
"I am his biggest fan. I want him to lead Kings XI to the title triumph as he did with Deccan Chargers in 2009. Gilly is a special human being and I think it is a great privilege for the young players in India to play alongside him," he said.