DateLine: 22nd January 2008
At the time of his signing by Glamorgan, Jason Gillespie was the fifth highest wicket taker in Test cricket for Australia, with a career tally of 259 wickets from his 71 appearances for his country.
He burst onto the Test scene with a haul of 7 for 37 against England in the Ashes Test of 1997 at Headingley, but his subsequent career at international level was plagued by a series of niggling injuries, including stress fractures in the back, hip twinges, various side and shoulder strains, torn calf and groin muscles, hamstring twinges, and a broken right leg. But after recovering from all of these he was an ever-present in the Australian side from November 2002 through to the Ashes tour of England in 2005.
During this time he formed a potent partnership with Glenn McGrath, and blossomed into one half of Australia's most statistically successful new ball pairing. With a short and economical run up, one of his great assets is control and an ability to place the ball precisely where he wants to place it, always with the seam upright, coupled with the priceless ability of being able to make the ball move both ways. Another of his assets is tenacity, with the man from South Australia always being prepared to bowl long spells. This never say die attitude was also evident in a remarkable innings against Bangladesh at Chittagong in April 2006. Coming in as night-watchman, Gillespie defied the home attack for 574 minutes and 425 balls as he recorded a magnificent, unbeaten 201, the highest score by a nightwatchman in the history of Test cricket.
This proved to also be his final appearance in Test cricket, and after his career-best innings, he joined Yorkshire for the 2006 season. He returned the following season, and added another century, his third in all, to his tally. With the ECB regulations changing to just overseas player for 2008, Yorkshire opted for Pakistani Rana Naved, and Gillespie opted to join Glamorgan.
His capture by the Welsh county delighted their Cricket Manager Matthew Maynard who said "Jason is a proven performer at international level, and he is just the sort of experienced bowler we were looking for to spearhead our attack. He will also be an important influence on some of the developing players in the dressing room."
"Jason has enjoyed plenty of success with the ball, as well as with the bat, and given his wealth of experience with Australia, he has plenty to offer us. I view his signing being very similar to that of Michael Kasprowicz a few years ago. I know Jason very well from my own time in international cricket. He's a top bloke and I know that he will fit in very well into our dressing room."
Jason Gillespie added "I'm really excited about heading to Cardiff and my family love the place too. I'm also aware of the massive changes the ground at Cardiff has undergone over the past year, which is really exciting. I can't wait to get stuck in and help Glamorgan be as successful as they can be in a new era under Matthew Maynard."
Jason duly played in 13 Championship matches and the same number of one-day games for the Welsh county in 2008, taking 39 wickets, including a haul of 5/13 in the Pro40 League victory over Warwickshire. `Dizzy` proved to be a reliable and accurate performer with the ball, and a lower order batsman who could put bat to ball, as shown by several lusty innings during what proved to be his final summer of first-class cricket, with Jason announcing in September 2008 that he was retiring from the first-class game. The great grandson of a Kamilaroi warrior, Gillespie will occupy a special place in Australian cricket history as the first acknowledged Aboriginal Test cricketer.
(Article: Copyright © 2008 Dr.A.K.Hignell)