Gilchrist pioneered the wicketkeeper-batsman role: Sangakkara

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Melbourne, Jan 28 (UNI) Admitting that Adam Gilchrist has set a benchmark not only for the Australians but for all the cricket playing nations, Sri Lankan wicket-keeper Kumara Sangakkara said the Australian has changed the way the game is played.

''He pioneered the wicketkeeper-batsman role. He put pressure on a lot of other sides to come up with the quality he was producing,'' Sangakkara told the Herald yesterday.

''He set the benchmark quite early, quite high, and everyone else was playing catch-up. All sides had to improve because of that.

''I think all wicketkeeper-batsmen tried to follow him,'' he said.

The leading batsman in world cricket, Sangakkara felt that with Gilchrist retiring after the Adelaide Test against India, Australia will find it difficult to replace a player of his caliber.

He added by saying, ''First [Shane] Warne and [Glenn] McGrath, now Gilly, those are three huge names that you can't replace easily." he said.

''Australia will not replace them with players of the same ability." Meanwhile, world's highest wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan lauded the Australian wicketkeeper-batsman and said Gilchrist is one of the greatest player to have played the game.

''I don't think we will ever see another player like Gilly.

He was one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen the game has produced, one of the greatest the world has seen,'' Muralitharan said.

He said Gilchrist's departure will leave a huge hole in the Australian side.

New South Wales keeper Brad Haddin looks certain to don Gilchrist's gloves but Muralitharan feels Haddin will have to leave his own mark at the international level.

''You can't compare the two players. Haddin is not as big a striker of the ball,'' Muralitharan said.

''When it comes to the Test arena, Haddin must prove himself.

But he doesn't need to be anybody else. I think Gilly is of a different calibre to any other wicketkeeper-batsman.

''The only person I can think of who is of a similar caliber is Kumar Sangakkara,'' the off-spinner added.

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