Jason Gillespie - for many he will always be YCCC Dizzy

It was announced on Monday that Jason Gillespie would be leaving Yorkshire CCC at the end of the current season.

James Buttler has a fond look back at the man they call YCCC Dizzy and his seven season’s at the White Rose county, two as a player and five as a highly successful coach…

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Talking cricket with Alastair Cook in Abu Dhabi

As I waited for player interviews in the foyer at Headingley Cricket Ground in July 2013 I became aware of two hangers on to the regular press throng. As a journalist you become a nosey bleeder and I listened to their conversation. It didn’t take long to realise they were Australians. A few minutes later I twigged they were Mr and Mrs Gillespie, over in England to visit their son’s family.

I had a quick chat to Neil Gillespie senior. He was a lovely man, passionate about the game and excited to be in England to see his family. Along the way I asked him the clichéd question, “You must be very proud of your boy?” The look in the eyes said so much more than the, “Ahh, yes mate” answer. The engaging Aussie could not have expressed his paternal pride better if he’d used a thousand more words.

I never told Dizzy that tale and I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning it now. Just days after my chat with his father, Jason was granted compassionate leave after Neil had died in Leeds. I’m sure he knows how much his father had taken from his feats on the cricket field and beyond. There was a hell of a lot of love and pride for him inside Mr Gillespie snr.

A few years earlier I’d been working as Yorkshire’s Media Manager when the club announced that Gillespie, one of the finest bowlers Test cricket has seen, was signing as the overseas player. His 259 Test wickets at an average of a shade over 26 apiece included best bowling against England at Headingley of 7 for 37. He had good memories of the ground. If he’d played in an era where McGrath and Warne hadn’t been such legends his stature in Australian cricket would have been even more.

As a player he was a pleasure to deal with. As Media Manager you’re often tasked with asking players to do things they don’t particularly want to do. Down time for players is sacred and cherished. Jason never moaned, did his thing with a smile and that became a feature of his association with the club.

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Two badgers together - Paul Farbrace and Jason Gillespie unite as Yorkshire coaches in Barbados in 2013.

A Question of Sport approached me to get a famous player to film a mystery guest slot for the BBC show. Dizzy agreed and we went down to a well-known Indian restaurant in town to let chef Dizzy loose on the spices. The kitchen had been prepared, the ingredients chopped and lined up in the order they would be added to the pan. It would surprise you how long it takes to film the 30 second feature, but the good-graced Gillespie did his thing.

It wasn’t until we came to the end of the dish, once it had been plated up, that Dizzy whispered to me that he couldn’t take hot food. He’d realised that the final mystery man reveal shot was to include him taking a big mouthful of the curry before smiling into the lens. I think there were four takes of that reveal and after Dizzy had held the smile for the requisite time he slugged down a pint of water and went different shades of purple. But he was always a pro.

When he came back as coach he asked me, and a few of the other office staff, what Twitter was. A few minutes later @YCCCDizzy was created and then an loud exclamation when he’d passed 10 followers. Roll on five years and there are 124 thousand following that Twitter account, where the hashtags #strongunit, #teamwork and #yccc have been regular additions to his tweets. That simple ethos has created a Championship winning team, one Gillespie could well view lifting a third successive title before he departs at the end of the season.

He was appointed as coach after the disappointing relegation season of 2012. I watched on as he and Paul Farbrace, now with England, combined under Martyn Moxon on the pre-season tour of Barbados and was soon as transfixed by their infectious enthusiasm for the game as the players were.

The following season they secured promotion despite the appalling rain that washed out many a day’s play. I wish I could have had a tenner for every time Dizzy told me “you can’t do anything about the weather” as I regularly suggested that the overs lost must be a source of frustration. But that is the Jason Gillespie philosophy – be your own best selector, control the controlables, prepare to succeed. It’s not rocket science, but those little soundbites sum up his coaching style and are good lessons for all of us, whether cricketers or not.

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Andrew Gale with the County Championship trophy

There are many cricketers who don’t like to talk about their sport. They are talented on the field, but as soon as the whites come off they are away and thinking about other things. Dizzy is a cricket badger. He should be writing for this site (offers there!). He would talk about cricket to anyone, anywhere and be happy doing it.

All good things come to an end. The Yorkshire public are known for saying it as it is. They don’t do a lot of fuss. But, like the legend Darren Lehmann before him, another South Australian that came to Headingley and left a hero, Gillespie will never be short of a big-hearted Yorkshire handshake whenever he returns to God’s Own County. He may be Australian, but he’s a Yorkie too!

Like Lehmann, Yorkshire’s loss is Australia’s gain. There’s no doubt in my mind that after success with South Australia , Gillespie will be Lehmann’s successor with the full national side, The bloke, who was part of arguably the greatest Test side that ever played the game, does not do failure. His Australia would be very hard to beat.

At Yorkshire he’s had time for everyone and completely immersed himself in the culture. He’s given the team an identity of its own that will continue after his departure. If you are to be harsh, and it would be really harsh, the success Yorkshire have produced in the four-day competition under Gillespie, where his team have only been beaten five times in five years, has not been replicated consistently in the one-day arena. But few Yorkshire folk look past the Championship. Most of the older brigade used to harp on constantly about the great teams of the fifties and sixties. Gillespie can be as proud as his father was of his achievements – he’s given the county a new team to bang on about!

I for one wish him every success in the future, unless it’s against England!!

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