Exclusive - Gillespie turns down chance of full-time role with South Australia

Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie.
Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie.
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JASON GILLESPIE has turned down the chance to coach his home state of South Australia in a move that would have forced him to quit Yorkshire and effectively ruled him out of the running to become England coach.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal that Gillespie was approached by the South Australian Cricket Association to apply for the position of full-time coach in his home city of Adelaide running the state side’s four-day and one-day teams.

Gillespie was last month appointed coach of Adelaide Strikers, the state’s franchise in the T20 Big Bash League, signing a two-year deal for the tournament that runs in December/January alongside his main role as Yorkshire first team coach.

But the prospect of South Australia getting him full-time has been dashed after Gillespie reiterated his commitment to Yorkshire - a decision that could yet have wider implications should England pursue him to replace Peter Moores.

Gillespie, the former Australia fast bowler, is thought to be the No 1 target of Colin Graves, the new England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, to eventually replace Moores as England coach.

Graves appointed Gillespie at Headingley in 2011 in his former capacity as Yorkshire chairman, and any agreement to return full-time to South Australia, where Gillespie played state cricket and enjoys hero status, would have surely quashed the chance of a Yorkshire reunion at international level.

However, Gillespie is understood to have a clause in his contract that enables him to withdraw from his winter role with the Strikers should an international position become available, raising the possibility that he may not coach the franchise at all as England prepare to embark on a challenging summer against New Zealand and Australia.

Gillespie, who turned 40 last month, is happy at Headingley but it is thought he would find it difficult to turn down any opportunity to coach England.

Other than to confirm his interest in becoming an international coach one day, however, Gillespie has steadfastly batted off questions relating to the England job - not least, one imagines, out of respect for Moores.

Gillespie might have viewed a full-time move back to Adelaide as enhancing his chances of one day becoming Australia coach, but that prospect is not currently in the pipeline due to the splendid job being done by his close friend and former team-mate Darren Lehmann.

Gillespie’s commitment to striking out on his own was emphasised when he was believed to have turned down the chance to join Lehmann’s coaching set-up during the 2013 Ashes series, when the former Yorkshire batsman took over from the sacked Mickey Arthur.

Since then, Gillespie’s stock has risen to the extent that he could now expect to walk into an international set-up as the main man.

His track record at Yorkshire, indeed, is exceptional considering the decade of underachievement that preceded his arrival.

In 2012, Gillespie’s first season, the club won County Championship promotion (negotiating the entire programme unbeaten), reached Twenty20 Finals Day for the first time and were one of England’s representatives in the Twenty20 Champions League.

In 2013, Yorkshire finished second in the Championship First Division and, last summer, they won the title for the first time since 2001.

Remarkably, Yorkshire have lost just three of 51 Championship games since Gillespie was appointed.

As speculation rages over his long-term future, Gillespie’s commitment to Yorkshire cannot be doubted.

His decision not to pursue the South Australia job - not least in the face of what is likely to have been a tempting offer financially - is further evidence of how much he enjoys his role at Headingley.

Gillespie is settled in Leeds with his wife and children and considers himself an honorary Yorkshireman.

Although tempted by the chance to return home full-time, he believes he has the perfect job combination.

“I let them (SACA) know that while I’m flattered by the interest shown, I’ve decided to not apply,” Gillespie told The Yorkshire Post.

“I’m excited by what we are all doing at Yorkshire, and I am really looking forward to my role with the Adelaide Strikers.

“While the lure of moving back to Adelaide is there, the opportunity of working with our players and our support staff here at Yorkshire is something I’m thankful for and I’m continually learning a lot.

“I believe Yorkshire and the Strikers is the best fit for me at this stage of my coaching career.”

South Australia have been looking for a new coach since parting company with Darren Berry in March. The former wicketkeeper spent four years in charge with limited success, prompting the need for what SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw has termed “a fresh approach for South Australian cricket”.

Bradshaw and Test legend Adam Gilchrist are expected to settle on a shortlist tomorrow, with interviews set to take place later this week.

SACA have made no secret of their desire to find someone who can champion a positive, aggressive brand of cricket - something that Gillespie has brought to Yorkshire and which makes him such a potentially attractive alternative to the safety-minded Moores.

Gillespie’s role at the Strikers has the full blessing of Yorkshire, who believe they will reap the benefits of him being involved in one of the best domestic T20 competitions in the world.

Yorkshire have never won the Twenty20 Cup - a fact they are desperate to address.