Jason Neil Gillespie is one of the players who contributed significantly to Australia’s early-2000s dominance. He was mostly a right-arm fast bowler and an able partner for the likes of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, but he was also a competent lower-order batsman, with his stubbornness and inability to throw away his wicket cheaply being a thorn in the flesh for many an opponent.
Gillespie, who is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people of Indigenous Australians on his father’s side, went on to become the first known aboriginal cricketer to play in a Test match.
Gillespie bowled with a single-minded resolve and hostility that any captain wished for while the opposition was running away with the game. His ability to bowl long stretches and his uncanny knack for breaking partnerships were invaluable assets for both Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, as it allowed them to properly rest and handle the workloads of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
In 1996, he made his Test debut against the West Indies in Sydney, where he took 2/62 in the first innings. Nonetheless, it was obvious that Gillespie and Glenn McGrath might form a powerful new ball attack.
With the arrival of Brett Lee, Australia quickly realised that Gillespie could be the ideal foil for McGrath’s nagging precision and Lee’s blistering pace, resulting in the forming of a much-famous and hugely effective three-man pace attack to complement Warne’s brilliance.
Rise to Glory
His best hour came against England at Headingley, when he took 7 for 37 and led Australia to a massive win. Gillespie and injuries became synonymous with each other as his career progressed, causing the speedster to slow down.
Despite recurring injuries (including a bad collision with Steve Waugh in 1999), Gillespie was able to keep his third pacer place. Sachin Tendulkar was a favourite of his, and he scalped him many times.
Gillespie was sent in as a Night-watchman on many occasions for a reasonable defence. On most times, he handled it admirably, such as when he scored 26 in Chennai in 2004 and batted for a long length with Damien Martyn to lead Australia to a draw, aided by rain that washed out the entire 5th day’s action.
But the best was yet to come, as he fought his way to an undefeated 201 versus Bangladesh in 2008. His first century in first-class cricket, in reality.
Ironically, it was in the same Test that he made his last appearance for Australia, with selectors keen to give the newer bowlers in the Test squad a chance to shine. Gillespie was Australia’s sixth-highest wicket-taker in Tests, with 259 wickets (at an average of 26.13) in 71 matches.
Soon after, he joined the now-defunct Indian Cricket League, and he was no longer considered for the national team.
Following his retirement, the Australian was active with grassroots cricket creation in Zimbabwe. In 2011, he became the bowling coach of IPL team Kings XI Punjab.
He had a fantastic spell with Yorkshire, where he began coaching in 2011 and led them to County Championship victories in 2014 and 2015. In 2018, he also directed the Adelaide Strikers to their first Big Bash League win.
With his abundance of experience and in-depth understanding of the game, Gillespie looks destined for a fruitful coaching career.