South African batsman Neil McKenzie on the hop against against Australia in 2009.
South African batsman Neil McKenzie on the hop against against Australia in 2009. PAUL MILLER

Gilchrist shares insight into on-field sledging

CRICKET: Occasionally a sledge will cross the line. In this story the sledge is a line - not a spoken line, but a literal line on the ground.

Cricket great Adam Gilchrist has revealed the brilliantly simple way he and his Australian teammates would try to get under the skin of South African batsman Neil McKenzie.

Batsmen are often creatures of habit and McKenzie, who played 58 Tests for South Africa in the 2000s and scored five centuries, fit that particular mould better than most - he insisted that every toilet seat in the dressing room was closed when he walked out to bat.

He also had a peculiar distrust of lines.

"I was told quite early that he hated stepping on the crease lines or any lines, where you mark centre, he just had this phobia of lines,” Gilchrist told The Unplayable Podcast.

"So I just often spent a lot of time scratching lines in the crease line and in and around where he had to stand.

"That was always a bit of fun just to try and see how that affected him, but he was a good player.”

Adam Gilchrist watches on from behind the stumps.
Australian 'keeper Adam Gilchrist, right, in action against South Africa in 2006. THEMBA HADEBE

Gilchrist also revealed that Michael Bevan was the man he found toughest to keep to.

"Bevo's not renowned for his bowling,” Gilchrist said.

"The left-arm leggie, fast action, very difficult to pick out of the hand. That's why it was so challenging.

"And Bevo will concede himself he didn't have the greatest control so whilst he could land it right on a sixpence, he could also throw them far and wide too, so it was always a challenge.”