ANDREW STRAUSS has made some big decisions in his brief time as England’s director of cricket.
He confirmed there would be no way back for sacked batsman Kevin Pietersen on the day that Pietersen scored a career-best 355 not out for Surrey.
And he rubber-stamped Alastair Cook’s appointment as captain for the entire summer regardless of what happens in the Ashes.
Now the former opening batsman has made arguably the biggest decision of all – overlooking Jason Gillespie for the position of England head coach.
Strauss telephoned Gillespie in Taunton yesterday to say that although he had, in Gillespie’s words, “interviewed well”, he was not the preferred candidate to replace Peter Moores.
That is another Australian, Trevor Bayliss, who is thought to have agreed a contract worth in the region of £300,000 a year.
Gillespie sportingly said that “if I put myself in Andrew’s shoes, I’d probably make the same decision, if I’m honest” as he reflected on an outcome that was both a big surprise and a personal blow.
Up until yesterday morning, Gillespie was the overwhelming favourite for the job and Yorkshire had long resigned themselves to losing a man under whom they have lost only three of 52 County Championship games.
Whether Strauss’s decision to ignore the outstanding candidate from county cricket proves correct remains to be seen, but Gillespie put a brave face on his disappointment as he spoke at length for the first time following a fortnight of speculation linking him to the national post.
“I’ve got absolutely no qualms about it whatsoever,” said Gillespie, who stressed that he is genuinely happy in his dual role as Yorkshire first-team coach and coach of the Big Bash League franchise Adelaide Strikers.
“It’s absolutely no dramas, and I’ve always seen it as a win-win my end.
“I have two great jobs and, if I had got offered the (England) job, there would have been a chance I would have jumped at it.
“But it was made very clear to me that there were a number of candidates, and it would have been a very difficult decision to have left Yorkshire.”
Gillespie, whose position at Yorkshire would have been filled at least temporarily by director of cricket Martyn Moxon, was interviewed by Strauss and Tom Harrison, the England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive, in London last week.
The former Australia fast bowler admitted that his family situation would have been a challenge with the England job demanding much time away – Gillespie is happily settled in Leeds with his wife and four young children – but he stressed that Strauss’s pre-conditions over such as Pietersen were not a factor.
“They made it very clear they’ve got a stance – I’m referring to Kev – and I didn’t have a problem with it,” said Gillespie, who said he still hopes to coach at international level one day.
“There were no issues and that has nothing to do with it. From my end, I supported the decisions made and when you go into a job, you cannot just come in and say, ‘I’m doing this, I’m doing that’.
“You need to get a feel for it, get to know people and understand the role; you can’t just come in and go whizz, bang, wallop.”
Gillespie, who feels English cricket is in “good hands” with Strauss at the helm, acknowledges he has unfinished business at Yorkshire – specifically in one-day cricket, where the club have traditionally underperformed.
He added that he had received a number of messages on social media imploring him to stay with the club.
“I’ve had a few people tweeting me saying, ‘Dizzy, don’t go, don’t do it’, so that kind of makes me feel good,” he said.
“I’ve just been incredibly flattered with all the support I’ve been getting, and it’s very humbling in a way.
“These are exciting times at Yorkshire and it’s far from all doom and gloom from my point of view.
“We’ve made it very clear that we want to improve our one-day cricket and we feel as though we’ve got the squad to compete in all forms of the game.”
While Yorkshire’s supporters have been urging him to stay, Gillespie said Yorkshire’s players have been taking the mickey.
The squad have not allowed speculation linking him to the England job to affect them and have instead tried to make a joke of it.
“They’ve just taken the mick out of me, to be honest,” said Gillespie.
“Every time my phone rings they’ve been going, ‘Is that Straussy? Ask for a car’.
“They’ve just been winding me up and had me laughing.
“We’ve got a great bunch of lads here and they do make you laugh.
“They are funny lads, and they keep it nice and light.”