After England were thrashed 5-0 in last winter’s Ashes, I said that the first thing they should do is remove Andy Flower as coach and replace him with Gillespie.
Nothing that has happened since has changed my view.
While Gillespie went on to win the County Championship with Yorkshire last summer, building on the second-placed finish of the previous year and promotion in his first year in charge in 2012, England chose instead to replace Flower with Peter Moores for a second term.
In so doing, they ignored the time-honoured maxim that you should never go back as well as an up-and-coming county coach who could usher in precisely the type of positive, aggressive, free-spirited thinking that the England team is crying out for.
I have nothing whatsoever against Moores, just as I have nothing whatsoever against Flower. Both are decent, hard-working men who have enjoyed their successes as well as endured their failures, and it was tough watching Moores being grilled on television after the defeat to Bangladesh that left England unable to qualify for the quarter-finals of a tournament that was so structured as to make that all-but impossible.
But the plain truth is that the shackled, stats-driven environment in which England operated under Flower has simply been replaced by another shackled, stats-driven environment under Moores.
The result is that English cricket is in need of the Gillespie ethos, which is essentially about fun, enjoyment, clearly-defined roles, players backing themselves and no fear of failure – promoted, in his case, by someone who is not so much a coach as a man-manager, which is all you need at the highest level.
Writing as one who has interviewed on numerous occasions Colin Graves, the outgoing Yorkshire chairman and the incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, I would be absolutely amazed if he was not – if you pardon the expression – singing off the same hymn sheet.
Graves, the multi-millionaire founder of the Costcutter supermarket chain and one of the country’s most successful businessmen, did not make his brass by avoiding tough decisions and shying away from ruffling feathers.
Graves does not just call a spade “a spade” – he calls it a bloody spade, or even an effing spade – and he cannot possibly be satisfied with what he has seen in the World Cup, nor wish to be associated with abject failure.
When Yorkshire suffered Championship relegation in 2011, Graves famously told this correspondent that the performances were “a bloody disgrace” (as I remember, that was one of his more printable reflections) and responded by taking a sledgehammer to the coaching staff and setting up a new regime that included the Midas touch appointment of Gillespie.
Graves’s actions were about as subtle as a trumpet blast during a minute’s silence and yet a record of three defeats in 48 Championship games since then speaks volumes for his perspicacity.
In short, the changes worked wonders, and what price Graves now following a similar template with England at a time when he has already promised a top-to-bottom review of English cricket? Graves might have bailed Yorkshire out of financial calamity from the kindness of his heart and because he loves Yorkshire County Cricket Club; he certainly hasn’t done it for the publicity as he has never – unusually for someone in his position – courted the media spotlight.
But he has battled to the top job in the ECB through personal ambition and because he wants to make a difference, something that does not necessarily bode well for the under-fire Moores or indeed Paul Downton, the ECB managing director, who has presided over a number of fatal strategy decisions – not least the persisting with Alastair Cook as one-day captain before sense belatedly prevailed just weeks before the World Cup began.
If Moores goes – either now or at some point in the near future – the question is whether Gillespie would want the job should England come calling.
The former Australia fast bowler would appear the firm favourite in a field of few viable candidates but the answer is perhaps not as simple as it might seem. Gillespie is unashamedly ambitious and yet he has a young family to consider who are settled in Leeds.
The job of an international coach demands long periods from home – far longer than he has to endure at Yorkshire, or would have to endure in Australia’s Big Bash should his plan to widen his experience in the winter come to fruition – and it might not simply be a case of saying: “Yes, thank you very much, Colin, where do I sign?”
By the same token, international coaching jobs are not ten-a-penny, a coach’s stock can fall as quickly as it can rise, and Graves is not the sort who easily takes “no” for an answer.
If he hammers on Gillespie’s door and personal terms are not a problem, Gillespie would have to think long and hard about rejecting an opportunity that might not come again.
Whatever happens, the clamour for change is steadily growing. Mike Selvey, the former Middlesex and England pace bowler, has written that “it is hard to see now how his (Moores’s) position is sustainable or tenable”, while Geoffrey Boycott has called for Moores to go.
The sadness for many – myself included, who have no wish to see Moores suffer – is that all of this was so avoidable and so predictable. It is time for a clean slate; it is time for Gillespie.
Jason Gillespie: The story so far...
JASON GILLESPIE played for Yorkshire in 2006 and 2007 during a glittering career in which he took 259 Test wickets and 142 one-day international wickets.
After finishing his playing days at Glamorgan, Gillespie gained coaching experience with Australia A, the Zimbabwe franchise MidWest Rhinos and the Indian Premier League franchise Kings XI Punjab.
Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves gave him his chance at Headingley in 2011 when the club appointed him first team coach in a major coaching reshuffle after County Championship relegation.
Martyn Moxon took on more of an overseeing role as director of cricket, responsible for development at all levels of the club, while Gillespie and captain Andrew Gale focused predominantly on the first team.
The reshuffle was an instant success.
Yorkshire gained promotion in Gillespie’s first season at the helm and also reached Twenty20 Finals Day for the first time.
A second-placed Championship finish followed in 2013, and then the Holy Grail last summer of the title win.
Gillespie, who turns 40 next month, is now one of the game’s hottest coaching properties.
He is a fine man-manager, who could be perfectly suited to the England job.