You define a new role in modern cricket, you sit at the heart of perhaps the greatest team there has ever been. There is not a batsman alive who would not want to bat an hour in your shoes, just to know how it feels to hit the ball the way you hit it.
You come to England in the spring of '05. From 21 June to 8 September, in five Test matches and nine innings, you score 181 runs at an average of 22.62 and a strike rate of 71.82, with no hundreds and no fifties, with 24 fours and one six, with a top score of 49*.
Four of those eight dismissals come from the bowling of Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff wins and England win. You lose and Australia lose. You are 32 years old, and you sit at home and wonder if it's over.
'It was intense and emotional. My personal lack of results and contribution through that series played havoc in my mind. It started to allow a little demon in my mind to say, are you up for it still? Were you ever up for it? Did you have a golden run for five or six years and now you're gone?'
You start to see the game differently, feel differently about it, take it home with you. You're a less attentive father, a less attentive husband, a man wracked with doubt. In your diary you write, 'I hate this game'. Eight innings is what it took, to tear down those five and a half years, those 4,452 runs at 55.65, those fifteen hundreds, those 20 fifties. Eight innings.
'Where that took me personally for the next 12-18 months was the toughest point of my career'.
Adam Gilchrist's interview in yesterday's Observer was full of the kind of honesty above. What it showed, what it proved, is how irrelevant physical talent can become when set against the weight of the human mind, and how unknowable the men who play the game can be.
All but a handful of batsmen on earth are less talented than Adam Gilchrist. But there are many who would not lose their belief so quickly. Imagine Boycott doubting himself after eight innings. Imagine Botham. He would have backed himself after eight hundred.
It's easy to see how those of lesser ability than Gilchrist and similarly susceptible to introspection are destroyed by Test cricket, or county cricket, or whatever level of the game they reach.
Gilchrist's interview came on the day Michael Vaughan hung them up. Duncan Fletcher's Guardian piece is by far the best valediction. In it, he describes watching Vaughan bat [in the nets, of course] and seeing something extra about him, 'a presence that was obvious... Everyone gets nervous playing sport at the highest level, but some hide it better than others and Vaughan was the past master'.
Such are the indefinables, and great are the men who can control them. Kevin Pietersen said today, 'I remember coming in at the Wanderers when 60,000 people were looking as if they were going to kill me. Vaughan walked up to me in the middle of the wicket and he said, 'the ball is white, the ball is round, you know what you've done to get here, just watch it as hard as you can'... That calmed me right down from being a gibbering wreck when I walked on that field to the player that I am, because that's all I do now. I just watch the ball'.
Simple game, isn't it?