If Jason Gillespie helps England regain the Ashes this summer, Australia will rue letting him slip through their net when he stopped playing in 2008.
The former paceman was widely expected to be fast-tracked into the country’s centre of excellence in Brisbane but, as a result of his involvement in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), he served his coaching apprenticeship in Zimbabwean domestic cricket.
The hard line taken by Cricket Australia, in conjunction with India’s BCCI, hampered his early attempts to break into coaching in his home country, despite his 259 Test wickets.
So Gillespie should relish the chance to get one over on the Ashes holders, especially with an England side with a fair sprinkling of players from Yorkshire – the county he has called home since November 2011.
The former Nottinghamshire all-rounder Paul Franks spent time with Gillespie in Kwekwe, the home of the Midwest Rhinos, and saw the impact he had on a young side. He also witnessed the passion that has made Gillespie the primary target for England’s new director of cricket, Andrew Strauss.
Franks said: “You learn a lot about yourself in that kind of environment. You learn a lot about values too.
“You’re working away from your support network and have to work hard to make things happen. He wanted guys to go out and enjoy the challenge. Everyone was given the chance to go out and fulfil their potential. He wanted to serve his time and not just go straight into a job at the highest level.”
The ability to get the best out of people has been in evidence at Headingley, with the likes of Jack Brooks, Adil Rashid, England new boy Adam Lyth and Alex Lees all thriving.
After Yorkshire won last season’s County Championship, Gillespie said: “You have to have the enjoyment, go out and work hard, enjoy your success and play a positive brand of cricket.”
You could hardly accuse England of doing that during the World Cup and, although their Test form is a world away from their one-day woes, there is a sense that fear is stalking them.
Franks said: “You need to aspire to be as good as you can be – and Jason would do everything he could to make that happen. He would also want England to have a great time along the way.
“I don’t know if he would take the job. The amount of time you spend away from what is a young family might be the only thing that hinders his decision. But these opportunities don’t come around often – and I think he would do a fantastic job.”
England fans are desperate to see Alastair Cook’s men tackle Australia head-on this summer, and he would be guaranteed support in Yorkshire, Glamorgan and Rishton, where he played.
As a fast bowler, he took 7 for 37 against England at Headingley in 1997 and, in his man-of-the-match interview, declared he was “going to drink quite a few beers in quite a short space of time”.
If Gillespie leads England to an Ashes triumph this summer, he could be the toast of the nation.