Caption: Jason Gillespie coaching the Australian “A” Team (Source: cricket.com.au)
FORMER Australian Test speedster, Jason Gillespie, is excited at the prospect of working with the Hebou PNG Barramundis over the next couple of months in their pursuit to qualify for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England.
Gillespie, who played 71 Tests, taking 259 wickets and 97 One Day Internationals, taking 142 wickets for Australia has been arguably the most sort-after cricket coach of late.
Gillespie who had coached the Kwekwe-based Midwest Rhimos in Zimbabwe, Yorkshire in the English County Championships and the Adelaide Strikers in the Australian Big Bash League has been linked to major coaching roles for England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and Cricket Australia (CA).
“I’m approaching this opportunity with an open mind. PNG have some wonderfully talented cricketers and I see my role as to be there to support them in any way I can in their preparation and during game,” he said.
Having not travelled to PNG or worked directly with any of the PNG Barramundis players, Gillespie has heard a lot of positives from his contacts in Australia and England.
“I have spoken to a number of people including my good friends Andy Bichel and Brad Hogg. They spoke glowingly of the players’ skill and enthusiasm. I’m expecting the lads will be excited by the opportunities to play some quality cricket against good opposition over the next couple of months and to prepare accordingly,” he said.
Yorkshire, an English County Team where Gillespie coached for five years, played the Hebou PNG Barramundis in their recently concluded UAE Tour. During his tenor with Yorkshire, the County Team were instantly promoted from Division 2 in 2012 and then won back-to-back Division 1 titles in 2014 and 2015.
“I got very positive feedback from the Yorkshire players and coaching staff. They said the PNG boys were fine players and really enjoyed playing against them. They said their fielding was exceptional!” said Gillespie.
Cricket PNG (CPNG) Chief Executive Officer Greg Campbell, confirmed last week Gillespie, initially appointed as a consultant on a 12-month term, will fill in as interim head coach of the national side following the departure of former Head Coach, Dipak Patel.
“We had conversations with Jason (Gillespie) earlier in the year about coming on as a consultant coach and Jason accepted that position,” Campbell explained on ABC radio’s Pacific Beat.
“After Dipak departed, I spoke to Jason a little more in-depth and he agreed to fill that spot for the next 2-3 months.
“Jason will (also) be around the group for the next 12 months as a consultant coach and that will involve working with all the coaches and the other teams.”.
Gillespie, who was appointed the coach of the Australian “A” side, was meant to be with them in South Africa now, but with that tour being cancelled due to the ongoing pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association, Gillespie was able to link up with the Hebou PNG Barramundis in the short term.
“Personally I see this as an opportunity to learn about different players in another cricket environment. I will observe and offer my thoughts to players and coaches to stimulate good cricket conversations and offer any advice utilising my experience from other coaching roles,” concluded Gillespie.
The PNG Barramundis are set for a busy few months of cricket with a series of games against the National Performance Squad, the Australian Indigenous team and other Australian state sides, before hosting Scotland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup (ICUP)/World Cricket League Championships (WCLC) Round 6 fixtures in Port Moresby in October.
The PNG Barramundis are currently sitting in second place on 14 points in the ICC WCLC Standings with two (2) rounds remaining. Teams that finish top four (4) in the WCLC standings after the final round will advance to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers next year, with the two (2) top teams from that competition advancing to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.