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News

Jason Gillespie's philosophy for Pakistan: 'Don't try to be something that you're not'

The former Australia fast bowler is all set to coach a Test team for the first time

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
29-Apr-2024
Jason Gillespie has been the Adelaide Strikers coach since 2015

Jason Gillespie is all set for his first assignment as a Test coach  •  Getty Images

Jason Gillespie's resume makes him a strong contender for most coaching jobs, but there's little doubt that in Pakistan, his nationality also carries weight. Pakistan's admiration for, and in some cases obsession over, the Australian style of play has made them look to that country for roles as diverse as dressing-room mentors to pitch curators. Just weeks earlier, they made Shane Watson their primary candidate for the white-ball coaching role but he pulled out. Ever since, Gillespie has been first choice for Test coach and an agreement with him and Gary Kirsten - who takes over as white ball coach - is believed to have been agreed weeks ago.
But Gillespie hasn't become a respected coach by telling sides what they want to hear, and in his first remarks since his appointment, he warned that Pakistan shouldn't simply look to emulate Australia or any other side. "My philosophy is - don't try to be something that you're not," he told the PCB's in-house media channel on a podcast. "I simply want the Pakistan cricket team to play the style of cricket that's going to suit them; for me, that's important.
"You've got to be authentic in how you go about it. I will go out there and say: just be positive, aggressive, entertaining. Play with a smile on your faces and entertain our fans. There are going to be times when you have to grind it out, and that's what Test cricket is. It's a test of your skills, mental capacity, and patience. There are times to attack and times to soak up some periods of cricket from the opposition. If we can be as consistent as we can, then hopefully, the scoreboard will look after itself, and we can pick up some wins."
The former Australian fast bowler has had several coaches roles since he last played international cricket in 2006. Most successfully, Gillespie was Yorkshire's head coach from 2011-16, overseeing their promotion from the second division in his first season, and won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015. He has also taken up T20 coaching roles with Punjab Kings and Adelaide Strikers, as well as Sussex and South Australia.
"The opportunity to be the head coach of Pakistan's Test side is fantastic," he said. "It's an honour. I've been coaching for quite a while now in various roles around the world, but one thing I haven't done is coach an international Test side. When this opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it.
"Just how Pakistan plays, and the talented and skillful players Pakistan has, it's great to be part of the team, and hopefully, I can help the team progress, improve, and play some entertaining cricket."
Kirsten also spoke to the PCB, calling it a "wonderful privilege" to be offered the job of Pakistan white-ball coach. "I think Pakistan sits as one of the top four to five coaching jobs in the world internationally," he said. "What is important is that I have the opportunity to work with some of the best cricketers in the world and that excites me."
Kirsten had arguably the highest profile coaching job in the world when he was appointed coach of India in 2008, famously ending his tenure on the shoulders of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, who hoisted him up for a lap of honour after India won the 2011 ODI World Cup. If he sees out his current two-year contract, he will oversee Pakistan in three white-ball ICC events: two T20 World Cups and a home Champions Trophy in 2025.
"The important thing for me is to understand where the team is at and where we want to go to - whether that is winning World Cup events, which, by the way, is not easy. Often some people think you just pitch in and you're going to win the championship.
"But if you can win one of those three ICC Events, that will be an amazing achievement on its own, whether it's the upcoming event or it's two years from now. My job is to make sure that the team operates at its best, it's as simple as that. And if the team is operating at its best, we will always have a good chance of winning a trophy.
"So for me, it is important to understand where is the team now and where its need to go to be able to compete right at the top of the pile, and that's winning ICC events. You can't guarantee a trophy, but what you can do is put the steps in place to give yourself the best chance of winning a trophy. And that's really what I'll tend to do."

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000