Weekend Interview - Jason Gillespie: '˜I've had a great ride and loved every minute'
JASON GILLESPIE believes that Yorkshire under-achieved slightly during his golden period as first-team coach and predicted that a new voice in charge will spur the club to even greater heights.
In his final interview before returning to his native Australia, Gillespie told The Yorkshire Post that he was a little frustrated that Yorkshire did not manage even more success during his time in charge.
Under Gillespie’s inspirational guidance, Yorkshire won back-to-back Championships in 2014 and 2015, finished runners-up in 2013, gained a third-placed finish last season and achieved promotion in 2012.
They also twice reached T20 Finals Day and twice made the semi-finals of the 50-Over Cup.
Although rightly proud of those efforts, which awakened the sleeping giant that was Yorkshire CCC prior to his arrival, Gillespie betrayed his own high standards in a candid assessment of his time at the helm.
“To be able to leave after five years, with the club having won a couple of trophies, promotion to Division One, made a couple of Finals Days and also reached some semi-finals in one-day cricket is a great feeling,” said Gillespie.
“It’s testament to the hard work of all the players and the support staff.
“If I’m perfectly honest, though, I still think we’ve under-achieved a bit, particularly in the shorter forms of the game.
“That’s a real challenge moving forward for the club, and I’m very confident that maybe a different voice as head coach might just be what the players need to spur them on to go one better in the shorter forms of the game.
“Sometimes, a change is really good for a club, and part of me didn’t want to overstay my welcome after five years in charge.
“Had I stayed on next year, I don’t think I would have overstayed my welcome, but it’s been well-documented that I’m leaving to spend more time with my family, and it’s the right decision to go down that path,” he said.
“I’m a Yorkshire supporter now and the former coach, and I’m just excited at the prospect of seeing these lads continue their good form in the four-day stuff and going one better in the shorter forms.”
Gillespie, who said that he will be “forever thankful to Yorkshire for taking a punt on me” in 2011, does not pick out the two Championships as his proudest achievement on a personal level.
Instead, he pinpointed his first season in charge as the most satisfying accomplishment, with Yorkshire winning promotion to Division One and going through the Championship programme unbeaten.
“The easy answer would be the two trophies,” said Gillespie, “and of course it’s pleasing for all the players and the club that we achieved that.
“But, unless we got back into Division One, that wasn’t going to be a possibility, so I think that 2012 season was the most important thing. We didn’t have Bresnan much that year as he was still playing for England, so we relied heavily on Patterson and Sidebottom; McGrath was even our third seamer for a while.
“We were probably a bowler or two light, to be honest, and a lot of young lads hadn’t come through then, while Shahzad also left.
“We had to find ways to take 20 wickets, and we managed to get a couple of wins under our belt.
“Promotion to Division One was key. Without that, what happened afterwards would not have been possible.”
Yorkshire were in dire straits after relegation in 2011, with Gillespie appointed as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the coaching set-up.
It was an inspired move by the Colin Graves-led administration, with Yorkshire taking a calculated gamble on a man whose track record as a player spoke for itself, but whose coaching experience was mainly restricted to a spell in Zimbabwe with MidWest Rhinos.
“I didn’t have to change too much when I came to Yorkshire,” recalled Gillespie.
“I really pushed hard things like having a good attitude and trying to give players freedom to go out there and play. For me, that’s really important.
“In the first year, in addition to winning promotion in the Championship, we did well in the T20, which was very pleasing.
“We went hard at being very specific with our game-plan in T20, particularly with the ball, and we had a blanket rule in the death overs, for example, to bowl yorkers.
“No ifs, no buts, and if you’re not willing to do that, you don’t play. The likes of Starc and Ashraf executed it brilliantly.
“For me, in T20 attitude is everything, and also energy in the field. Those were the things that we needed to nail.”
Asked what he learned most during his time as coach, Gillespie pinpoints the advice he received from those around him – specifically director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
“I’ve learned a lot from the players and also from the other coaches,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about man-management. Martyn Moxon is excellent at that.
“He’s an incredible man, and what he’s done for the club has been nothing short of phenomenal, and you only have to spend time with him to understand what a good operator he is. He allowed me to crack on and was always there as great support.
“There’s a lot of counties now following Yorkshire’s blueprint of having a director of cricket, a first-team coach, a second-team coach, and so on.
“What I think is the real strength of that structure is that, as director of cricket, Martyn can see all the players on the staff; he can go assist Ian Dews with the second team, for example, he can go to Academy games, watch the age-group sides, in addition to being with the first team.
“If he was director of cricket/first-team coach, he wouldn’t be able to leave the first team, so I think that’s been a massive positive for the club.”
Gillespie loved his time at Yorkshire, but family considerations are his priority.
The wider family in Australia were missing the grandchildren, who returned to Adelaide with Gillespie’s wife, Anna, shortly before the end of the English season.
“As my wife always says, our four rugrats (kids) are the most important thing,” said Gillespie.
“We need to put them first, and she’s absolutely right, and I’m really looking forward to putting them first and spending more time with Anna and the kids.
“I’m sure there’ll be times when I miss it (Yorkshire). The first day of the Championship season next year, I’ll probably think I’d love to be there, but the reality is that I’m very comfortable with the decision I’ve made.
“I’ve had a great ride and loved every minute of it, and I wish the club all the success in the world.”