LONDON, Apr 19 (Reuters) Jason Gillespie elevated the humble role of nightwatchman into the realm of the paranormal with an unbeaten 201 on his 31st birthday.
The likeable Australian fast bowler added a further 99 runs to his overnight total before prudently distancing himself from a pledge made the previous evening in the Bangladesh port city of Chittagong.
Reminded that he had promised to join team mate Matthew Hayden in a nude lap of the ground if he converted his century in the second test into a double, Gillespie responded with the discretion which had underpinned his epic innings.
''Don't know about that one, being in a Muslim country,'' he told the Australian Associated Press. ''I don't know if it would be perceived right.'' The transformation in Gillespie's fortunes since he was recalled for the first test against Bangladesh has been astounding.
His test career appeared dead and buried in England last year when his gloriously elastic action became laboured and uncertain, and the England batsmen took full toll en route to their Ashes triumph.
HAUNTED FIGURE At times Gillepsie looked a haunted figure, taking only three wickets in three tests before he was dropped and enduring sometimes offensive barbs from spectators about his distinctive long hair as he patrolled the boundary.
Although he made the customary bold noises about a comeback it was still a surprise, outside Australia at least, when he was recalled for the tour of Bangladesh.
After bowling well in the first test and helping captain Ricky Ponting steer his side to victory with the bat, Gillespie's obdurate batting skills were recognised when he was entrusted with sheltering one of the established batsmen when a wicket fell late on the first day.
Yesterday, a man who had never batted above number eight as a regular batsman with only two half-centuries from 70 tests became the third nightwatchman to score a test century.
He followed up today by bettering compatriot Tony Mann's previous mark for a nightwatchman of 105 and then indulged in a flurry of strokes worthy of a specialist to reach his double hundred.
''I think I'm developing into an all rounder,'' Gillespie said. ''It was not very easy, putting your head down and batting in the heat.'' Bangladesh ended the day on 195 for four, still 189 runs behind Australia who declared their first innings on 581 for four.
REUTERS KD KP2338