AS expected, England this week appointed a former Australian cricketer with excellent credentials as their new head coach.
As very few expected, it turned out to be Trevor Bayliss rather than Jason Gillespie.
If ever a decision took the cricketing world by surprise, it was that.
At breakfast time last Monday, Gillespie was 1-10 to get the job and Bayliss was out at 14-5; by lunchtime, the odds had completely turned round and Bayliss had become the odds-on favourite.
This column had championed Gillespie for the job, mainly because this column has seen at first hand the way he has helped change Yorkshire’s fortunes.
A record of 22 wins, 28 draws and three defeats from 53 County Championship games speaks for itself; and the club was in something approaching disarray when Gillespie was appointed in 2011.
Bayliss’s record, however, also speaks for itself; the 52-year-old – who played 58 first-class games as a middle-order batsman for New South Wales – has a CV that understandably impressed England’s new director of cricket, Andrew Strauss.
Bayliss coached New South Wales to the Sheffield Shield in 2005 and 2014; he led Sri Lanka to the 2009 World T20 final and the 2011 World Cup final; he won the Indian Premier League with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014, and he took Sydney Sixers to the Big Bash and Champions League double in 2012.
Gillespie has one Championship, one Championship promotion and a runners-up finish in the T20 Cup to show for three-and-bit seasons in charge at Headingley, an impressive return at a club that had gone the longest of the 18 first-class counties without winning a trophy prior to last summer.
Bayliss is widely regarded – not least by former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, who described him on Twitter as “a ripper & even better, he’s pure old school too”.
In that respect, he would appear to have something in common with Gillespie.
Like the former Australia fast bowler, Bayliss is a laid-back character, who enjoys talking cricket over a beer.
He gives his players room to breathe and freedom to make their own decisions.
Writing as one without any direct experience of Bayliss’s methods, it would appear, from reading the reflections of those who have, that Strauss has appointed a more experienced version of Gillespie.
Bayliss, who previously worked with England assistant coach Paul Farbrace at Sri Lanka, also has intimate knowledge of the Australian set-up, having taken charge of Australia for a T20 series last year when Darren Lehmann was rested – intimate knowledge that could come in useful during the Ashes summer.
Gillespie wanted the England job, and his family circumstances – he has four young children – would not have prevented him taking it.
At the same time, he loves his dual role with Yorkshire and Adelaide Strikers and will surely see the rejection as a challenge.
Gillespie will now try to cultivate a CV every bit as impressive as Bayliss’s – particularly when it comes to one-day cricket.
To that effect, England’s loss can only be Yorkshire’s gain.