Cricket-"I want my ball back," says Gilchrist

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HOBART, Australia, Nov 17 (Reuters) Adam Gilchrist has appealed to the Australian public to help him find the ball he smashed his 100th test six with.

The Australian became the first player to strike 100 test sixes when he belted Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan over the fence during the second test at Bellerive Oval on Saturday.

The only problem was that Gilchrist hit the ball so far that sailed outside the ground and into a nearby street and has not been found since.

The umpires were forced to use a replacement ball for the rest of the Australian innings but Gilchrist later appealed to anyone who may have found the ball to return it to him.

''I'm not a massive collector of memorabilia but I think there's probably a few little bits and pieces every cricketer has stashed away that means something to them and that's a unique little item and I'd love to get it back,'' Gilchrist told a news conference.

''There aren't many things that you do in life that you're the only person ever to have done it, so with that in mind it would be nice to have the ball that notched that hundred.

''It's not a milestone you ever set out to achieve but it's definitely unique.'' Gilchrist, who already holds the world record for the most test sixes, went into the match with 97 maximums to his name but took his career tally to exactly 100 during an unbeaten knock of 67 that allowed Australia to declare on 542-5 and chase victory.

SAVED BEST He signalled his intentions to go after the Sri Lankan bowling when he clubbed Lasith Malinga over the mid-wicket fence for his first six before tea but saved his best for Muralitharan, who needs just six more wickets to break Shane Warne's world record of 708 test dismissals.

Gilchrist carted Muralitharan over the boundary ropes to reach 99 sixes then sent the very next delivery out of the stadium to make it an even hundred.

''I've been aware of this 100 sixes milestone because I read about in the paper but I hadn't really thought about it at all until i hit that first six off Malinga today and I went 'oh that's right it's coming up','' he said.

''It came into my mindset a bit and I tried a slog sweep off Murali that I skied and nearly got caught... so I had to settle down.

''I was able to clear my mind after that and the sixes at the end were very natural free flowing shots, I wasn't trying to bludgeon the ball over the rope or anything.'' Gilchrist is one of the cleanest hitters in world cricket and has made a career out of destroying some of the best bowling attacks but says he never goes out to bat with the sole intention of hitting sixes.

''I try not to think about it, I don't try to force it. I generally bat much better when I just try to play instinctively,'' he said.

''There's always a risk attached and it's brought me undone many times in the past but it's a great feeling when it comes off.

''There is a split-second or even a nano-second, just a moment in time when you are the only person in the whole world who knows that you've hit it right in the middle.

''A second later everyone else knows but that's just the best feeling you can have as a batsman.'' REUTERS SSC HS1713

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