Gillespie gives Yorks optimism
Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie tops the list of reasons why Yorkshire are optimistic for the Liverpool Victoria County Championship season.
Following promotion to Division One last season, they effectively secured their financial future by buying Headingley - while also welcoming back legendary figure Geoffrey Boycott on the county’s board.
In Gillespie, they have a bowler capable of leading a charge towards the championship - hungry to prove a point following his Ashes dip last year.
“He was probably disappointed with his Ashes form - but that’s the only real blip he’s had in his career,” said former Yorkshire captain Anthony McGrath.
“He’s had an outstanding season in Australia in domestic cricket, and I know he’s looking forward to coming to play for Yorkshire.
“He’s a fine bowler, and I’m sure he’ll have a great summer for us.”
Gillespie’s debut for Yorkshire will be delayed for a few weeks after the paceman earned a recall to the Aussie squad for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh.
Gillespie, 30, was dropped from the side during last summer's Ashes in England, but has been added along with Phil Jaques and Mitchell Johnson.
The trio replace Shaun Tait, Michael Kasprowicz and Justin Langer who picked up injuries in Australia's 3-0 Test series win in South Africa.
McGrath added: “He’s certainly still got international aspirations but I’m sure Jason will enjoy his time here - we’ve never had an overseas player who’s not enjoyed playing for Yorkshire.
“So if he wants to continue beyond the season it’ll be great to keep him.”
Gillespie will be joined at the club by fellow South Australian Darren Lehmann, who returns to the club to continue his long association with Yorkshire.
“He’s been part of Yorkshire, on and off, since 1997,” added McGrath on Lehmann’s return.
“He knows the club inside out and is very popular on and off the field.
“It will be great to have him back. Like Jason, he’s had a great season in Australia - so he strengthens the side, not just with his batting but also his bowling and cricket knowledge. It’s great to have him back.”
For his own part, McGrath is looking to better his admirable 1,425 championship runs last season - the 30-year-old former England international also weighing in with 16 wickets.
“I’m looking to build on last season and I hope I can have a similar season, if not better, and help the side go for the championship,” McGrath added.
“In the last year Notts were promoted and won the championship, so there’s not a lot between the two divisions.
“It’s important to get off to a good start. If you can get a couple of wins early on you can keep the momentum going and build from there.”
McGrath will be one of the senior players when Yorkshire kick off the season with a match against Bradford/Leeds UCCE on April 15 at Headingley, which is now owned by the club after Leeds City Council agreed to loan the £9million required to complete the purchase.
“It’s important for the club’s future to own our own ground; our destiny is in our own hands more, with the income,” said McGrath.
“So it’s important for the financial future of the club. It’s in better hands now, and we can develop it how we want without going through the rugby club.
“If the players can match that with performances on the pitch then the future looks good.”
Along with changes in the ownership of the ground, there is a new-look management team which should have former England and Yorkshire opener Boycott as a non-executive director.
“I’m sure he’ll be around the place,” said McGrath.
“A couple of guys have chatted to him before, and he can be very helpful with his ideas and knowledge of the game. I’m not sure what capacity it’ll be in - but if he is around it’ll great to see him.
“He was an institution at the club, for what he did for Yorkshire and England. To have someone like that involved in the club can only be a benefit.”