Live Blog: Gilly in Manipal as MU signs international MoU10 min read
14:25: Good afternoon and welcome as TMJ is live for the first time ever. Manipal University(MU) hosts a delegation of guests from the University of Wollongong (UOW) today as the two universities put pen to paper on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
14:28: Among the delegates is a familiar figure in the form of Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist, whose presence has caused a stir among the student community in Manipal. Since hanging up his gloves in 2008, ‘Gilly’ has maintained close ties with India. He was appointed the University of Wollongong’s Brand Ambassador for India in 2008, and has since visited India several times to meet government officials, prospective students and business leaders, not to mention his involvement in the Indian Premier League. In 2015, he became Australia’s embassador for education in India.
14:30: In the past, Manipal University has hosted Anil Kumble (2007), Syed Kirmani (2013), Indian World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten (2013) and Sri Lankan World Cup winner Roshan Mahanama (2014), and today, record-breaking wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist is added to the growing list of cricketers who have graced the University town.
For many students in the University, Gilchrist represents a childhood of memories when a dominant Australian team were lead by the equally daunting opening pair of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. His 149 in the World Cup final in 2007, is the highest individual score in a World Cup final and also one among a career full of swash-buckling innings’.
Gilchrist however isn’t wearing pads and gloves today. He is here, instead, as part of the delegation from the University of Woollongong to establish a framework for collaboration between the Universities on academic activities in the fields of engineering, medical and health training and research.
The Manipal Journal will be live throughout the Press Conference to keep you up-to-date on the happenings at Marena.
14:32: A flurry of activity at the Press Conference room in Marena as the delegation of guests from the University of Wollongong arrive for the MoU signing
14:48: Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor, Manipal University starts proceedings. “Manipal University is the most well known for international programmes in India. Among a number of our programmes, we have split campus PhD programmes and research programmes with institutions all around the world. Manipal and Woollongong are not new to each other. We are neighbours in Dubai and we have worked together for 15 years. We intend to set up student exchanges, staff exchanges over the coming years.”
14: 55: “Students from MIT and KMC could have opportunities for electives and semesters abroad. We welcome students of Wollongong to Manipal. Yesterday evening, Manipal University was given an award for being the best Indian university for internationalisation. We were singled out from 815 colleges across the country. The efforts of the International office have to be commended as we have signed over 300 agreements with international institutions,” adds Vinod Bhat. Manipal University has announced numerous tie ups with institutes around the world including in Vietnam and Ethiopia.
15:00: Prof Welling, from the University of Wollongong is now speaking. “We are delighted to be here and this is a long term commitment from both sides. This is our 9th tour doing a whole range of things with businesses and universities. We offer a wide range of subjects including Social Sciences, Humanities, Medicine, with a specific focus on rural areas. It is similar to the work Manipal has been doing and we have a lot to learn from them. I believe MoUs should not be just symbolic. We are looking forward to having student exchange, staff exchange, long term research projects that benefit both India and Australia.” The University of Wollongong is a Public Research University. It appears that there will be a specific focus on research projects in the exchange of personnel between the two Universities.
15:10: With that, it is now Gilchrist’s turn to speak. The photographers hover to capture the cricket superstar. “We, as representatives of the University of Wollongong, have met the best Vice Chancellor we could possibly have and from what I’ve witnessed today, as Prof. Welling said, the vibrancy of Manipal is evident. It’s extraordinary being here. Prof. Welling previously worked with Manipal University when he was with a university in the UK, thus we had no hesitation to re-engage.”
15: 14: Classy and professional from Gilchrist so far, reminiscent of his approach on the cricket field. “It can be hard to balance sports and education but as I see it, Manipal is all about the balance, blending knowledge and a healthy lifestyle. Together we move forward with all the various courses we run together. Thank you very much for hosting us here today. Come down to Wollongong and we’d be happy to have you.”(audience laughs)
15:20: It is time for questions from the media. The first question is inevitably directed at Gilly and it is inevitably about his cricketing career. “Happy to answer any question related to cricket other than Australian cricket (laughs). But I believe we have a Press Conference after this with the students, so I’ll answer them then.”
15: 27: “How is India from an education point of view?”, asks the reporter. Gilchrist takes the question answering in his ever assured tone. “Very exciting I should say. The nation has made me feel very welcome. With this agreement we hope to set up research projects between India and Australia.”
15: 32: The questions are coming in thick and fast now. “How do you balance education and sport?”, asks a reporter in the front row. “There is a desire to encourage the youth of today. We have the Bradman Foundation Scholarship to promote youngsters to follow the game along with their studies.”
15: 36: “Could you mention some of the strategies you will be adopting to help student exchange?”, asks Sonal from the School of Management. “The present government has alllocated a funding model that allows students of Australia to go to a wide range of countries including India,” answers Prof. Welling.
15: 41: My turn to ask a question. “The MoU facilitates an exchange between MIT, KMC students and the University of Wollongong. Will more colleges and fields be added in the future?,” I ask fighting the urge to ask Gilchrist about his decision to walk even when he wasn’t given out in his retirement match at the 2008 Commonwealth Bank Series. The reporters are largely following the “No Cricket Questions” blueprint laid out for the formal MoU signing.
15:43: Vice Chancellor Vinod Bhat answers that the MoU is generic and covers a broad range of topics. “For now, MIT and KMC are the two colleges listed but in the future we could include the School of Management, School of Communication and so on.”
15: 45: The Press Conference ends with the signing of the MoU. The delegates leave. It is now time for an interactive session between Gilchrist and the students down at the Futsal court.
15: 48: An expectant crowd of 80-100 students are huddled in the Futsal court. Adam Gilchrist walks in to a huge roar from the crowd.
“We love you Gilly”, shouts a member of the audience. “Thank you”, says Gilchrist in response. Gilly is speaking now. “I am incredibly happy to be here (loud cheers). I was here for the IPL and I loved the experience. The first IPL, well, we had one of the best teams and we finished dead last. We were reflecting on the season and what went wrong. There was a day when the team got together and we told each other where we are from, what our family was like, what’s funny in our country. Any guesses who won the second time around? (crowd roars in approval).” Gilchrist won his maiden IPL title leading the Hyderabad Deccan Chargers to victory in the second edition of the competition.
15:50: “It is one of the highlights of my career. A team of different nationalities, different levels of experience came together. It reflects what is going on in our university and in the university of Manipal. You should come check it out (Wollongong), it’s a different culture,” he adds.
15:55: “Getting to University is like getting a ticket to a game. You can watch or be a part of the game. I got in and played the game, committed to it. Graduation was a goal in life. I congratulate you for getting a ticket to the game. Utilise the opportunity and expertise around you. Its fantastic to be here today. You have amazing facilities at your disposal,” not the first time Gilly has revelled about Manipal University today.
15:57: Now, it is time for the first question from the audience. “Happy Birthday in advance. I wanted to wish you since your birthday is on 14 November. I wanted to ask you about the 2007 World Cup final when you scored 149 off 104 balls. How did it feel?,” asks a member of the audience. One of Gilchrist’s finest innings’ ever, coming in a World Cup final no less. It remains the highest individual score in a World Cup final and helped Australia to a hat-trick of World Cup titles.
Gilchrist thanks him for the advance birthday wishes. “It felt great. We had pretty decent players in the team (laughs). We had good captain, good coaches. To be number 1, we train and prepare as if we are #2. That’s why we were able to maintain the standard. I knew it was my last World Cup innings. I was run out on 99 once before that. I was running for Ponting (crowd laughs). But yes, it was one of my biggest innings’. You think of all the people who supported you on the way on days like that.”
16:00: The next question probes his state of mind before his debut game against Pakistan. “You debuted against a Pakistan team with a quality bowling attack. What was going on in your mind when you faced them?”
“It was great and nerve wracking at the same time and I was up against a quality bowling line up but it’s a wonderful memory debuting for your country,”
16:01: An audience member meanwhile is flummoxed by left arm spinners. “How do you play left arm spinners?”
Gilchrist reminds him he’s a left arm batsman himself. “I used to love facing left arm spinners as the ball comes on nicely when you’re a left handed batsman. I had trouble with Harbhajan Singh (crowd roares in approval). You work out a technique you can handle for situations like that. I would sweep, really. When in doubt, sweep.”
16: 04: The next question is about his opinion on the best team in the world. “This isn’t a Press Conference is it? (laughs) Who’s the top team at the moment? I don’t think there is one top team and that makes it interesting.”
“Your most intense moment in cricket?”, chimes another member of the audience. The students are vying for the mic to get an opportunity to ask a question.
“The most intense moment is if I miss a stumping from Shane Warne’s bowling (laughs). McGrath would be bowling from the other end and Warne would come up and stand next to me at slips. That is an intense moment.”
16: 06: “Who was your most difficult opponent?” is the next question.
“Murali. I had no idea what he was bowling. I couldn’t pick it up. The doosra, the top spin, the fast one, so I just swept. When in doubt, sweep. Harbhajan Singh was tough in 2001. India was the most difficult country for us to face.” (loud cheers)
16: 09: The inevitable Virat Kohli question. “What do you think about Virat Kohli, who is in tremendous form lately?”
“I’d say Virat Kohli is one of the best batsmen in the world alongside Joe Root and AB de Villiers. “
No mention of Steve Smith? Interesting.
16: 10: “What was your routine, pre match and post match?
“I’d lace my left shoe first, wear my left glove first, left pad first. Post match, I ate well, slept well, stretched and warmed down after the day’s play and yeah ice on the knees as I’d be wicketkeeping. Also, make sure I get enough food and drinks to recover completely before the next day’s play.”
16:11: The interaction comes to an abrupt end as Gilchrist is whisked away amid a frenzy call for autographs and selfies. Classy and assured as ever, Adam Gilchrist is no different in-person to the way he appeared on our TV sets all those years ago.
Compiled with inputs from Karthik Rajagopal