Standing back to fast bowlers, he was superb. Even now, in this sudden, dismaying and inevitable hour, it is possible to remember him flying through the air to take glides down the leg side, glove outstretched, landing with a thump and emerging with the ball with the sort of pleasure detected in a child who has found a plum. At these times he transformed innocent glances into remarkable snares.
Doubtless it helped that he is a left-hander but then his work in the other direction was not much worse. He was a capable, as opposed to gifted wicketkeeper.
Standing over the stumps to spinners, Gilchrist was reliable. Over the years Shane Warne had less reason than he imagined to regret Healy's departure. Until the last few rugged months, Gilchrist did not miss much. Often he'd wear a helmet to counter the Victorian's prodigious spin, and his work behind the pads was admirable. He holds the world record for Test victims. He must have done something right.
Others may reflect upon his thrilling innings at the top of the order in fifty-over cricket, not least the dazzling hundred in the last World Cup final. But then, he attacked because he must. In Test cricket he attacked because he could. He refused to be bogged down by bowling or inhibited by pressure, and did not allow a frown to cross his brow except when an injustice has been observed or an uncharitable remark had upset him, and then he spoke his mind with the same directness that marked his batting.
Gilchrist was a magnificent willow-wielder. Released from worry by his work behind the sticks, he was able to express his temperament at the crease. Fortunately he had the range of strokes needed to meet the occasion: the swing of a swordsman, an ability to assess the length of the ball in an instant, plenty of power, and a wide range of strokes off both feet. Always he looked for opportunities to score, giving ground to defence only when every alternative had been removed. It took fierce reverse-swing or probing spin offered early in the innings to unsettle him. Otherwise he was not easily troubled let alone dismissed.
Above all, Gilchrist was a sportsman. Nothing held against him would have raised a murmur from someone else. Cricket will miss his smile and sense of fun and also his panache with the bat. Australians will miss the sight of him walking through the gate when the team was in trouble or else when quick runs were required. Everyone will remember the dynamic hundred struck in Perth against England.