'I was in a win-win position': Gillespie
Yorkshire and Strikers mentor discusses England head coach role and the potential paths his career may take
28 May 2015, 06:52 PM AEST
Despite being overlooked for the England coaching job, Jason Gillespie has nothing but praise for the manner in which England handled the process although he seems unlikely to pursue other international positions in the immediate future.
Gillespie, the Yorkshire coach who was touted as the early favourite to take over the England job before fellow Australian Trevor Bayliss was appointed last Tuesday, claimed he was “flattered” and “humbled” to have been considered for the high-profile role.
And in his first interview since a decision was made on Peter Moores’ replacement, Gillespie told cricket.com.au there was no correlation between his candidacy for the England job and his decision weeks earlier not to apply for the position of coach with his former team South Australia.
The ex-Australia fast bowler known as ‘Dizzy’ has become a sought-after commodity since beginning his coaching career with the MidWest Rhinos in Zimbabwe in 2010 before taking Yorkshire from division two of the UK County Championships to Division One champions last year.
Any initial disappointment about missing out on the England job for which Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss publicly identified him as a candidate is mitigated by the pride Gillespie felt in being approached after barely five years as a head coach.
As well as the knowledge that he will continue in his “dream job” at Yorkshire, with a chance to further broaden his experience with a stint at the helm of the Adelaide Strikers in the KFC T20 Big Bash League for the next two seasons in Australia.
He also reiterated that it was the England and Wales Cricket Board that sounded him out over the possibility of him taking up Moores’ position, not the other way around.
“Andrew Strauss was fantastic, he said to me ‘Dizz, you are one guy we want to speak to, would you like to come and have a chat to us about the role because we want to get your thoughts on where you see English cricket’,” Gillespie recalled today.
“So it was made plain and simple to me, and I spoke to my wife (Anna) and we agreed that I had nothing to lose in going down to London and having a chat.
“I was in a win-win position – I was quite flattered that he rang me and invited me to have a chat with him.
“It’s quite humbling to be thought of that highly.
“But I’ve always maintained that I love my job at Yorkshire, and I’m excited about the Strikers gig.
“It was a great experience to have sat in an interview with the Director of English cricket and the CEO (Tom Harrison).
“They seemed quite impressed by what I had to say, I was happy listening to them and I’m a better person for having been through an interview for an international coaching post … so I’ve come out of this thinking it was a massively positive experience.
“Had I been offered the job then let’s face it – an international job of that calibre would have been difficult to turn down.
“And if an international opportunity comes up for me in the future I may look to put my name in the hat, we’ll just have to wait and see.
“But for the time being I’m incredibly happy with my role at Yorkshire, I’m incredibly excited by my role with the Strikers and I’m really looking forward to getting back to Adelaide once we’ve finished off the season here (at Yorkshire).”
One of the attractions for the 40-year-old in accepting the Strikers’ job was the opportunity to take his four children back to his former home town for a month or two of Australian summer and to “get a bit of Adelaide sun on my back”.
But having identified coaching as the career path he hopes to pursue, Gillespie was unsure when asked if he saw his long-term future in the England system where he has so far excelled or back in his native Australia.
“I don’t really know the answer to be honest,” he said after a moment of contemplation.
“Sometimes in coaching you need to have a degree of flexibility and go where the jobs are.
“If an opportunity did come up in Australia in a couple of years’ time I would certainly look at it because our eldest son (Jackson) will be starting high school in three years’ time.
“So there are things we would have to strongly consider.
“But at the moment the kids are quite settled in school and we’ve got a nice little life for ourselves here in the UK – we’ve made some great friends and I absolutely love my job at Yorks.
“The people I work with and the players here are absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t ask for a better working environment.
“So at this point in time I’m very happy, but as with anything you look at opportunities.”
The announcement that he would return to Adelaide Oval – where he played the last of his 54 Sheffield Shield matches in 2008 – to lead the Strikers prompted reports that he was also the SA Cricket Association’s preferred candidate to take over from Darren Berry as coach of the West End Redbacks.
But as speculation about Moores’ future in the England job increased and he was touted as a frontrunner for that role, Gillespie confirmed he had decided not to lodge an application for the SA position that has subsequently been filled by his former Redbacks captain Jamie Siddons.
Gillespie is adamant that the possibility of gaining an international coaching job played no role in his decision not to enter the race for the SA vacancy.
Rather, it was a moment of clarity – following a lengthy burst of introspection – that helped him realise the timing was simply not right.
“Keith (Bradshaw, SACA Chief Executive) asked me specifically did I want to put my name in the hat for the SACA job and it was certainly something I considered deeply,” Gillespie recounted.
“I am South Australian, I’m an Adelaide boy and I love Adelaide and it would have been a good challenge to help the Redbacks develop players, win some games of cricket and to learn more about four-day and one-day cricket.
“I looked at the opportunity and went through all the pros and cons, and what I found was I was barely thinking of what the job itself would involve or about working with the players and all the support staff there.
“Instead, I was considering all the other things like ‘if we did go back where would we live, where would the kids go to school’ but I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the actual role.
“So that really told its own story, in that at that point in my coaching career it wasn’t quite the job for me.
“That wouldn’t have been fair on the SACA and I genuinely looked at myself in the mirror and I knew the answer straight away – I wasn’t ready to commit and be involved and I know deep down I made the right call not to apply for the job.
“And I think the SACA have done wonderfully well to secure the services of Jamie Siddons, he’s a massive victory for South Australia and I’m happy as well.
“My job at Yorkshire isn’t anywhere near over.
“I suspect there’s going to be a fair turnover of players at Yorkshire in the next couple of years, so the immediate challenge for us will be to keep pushing for success as well as develop new blood.
“And that’s really exciting.”