With yesterday’s announcement of the Australian Test squad for South Africa, it became significantly less likely that Jason Gillespie will play
another game of international cricket.

Gillespie was beaten to a place in the team
not only by Shaun Tait, which Gillespie himself had flagged,
but also fellow veteran Michael Kasprowicz, who was selected after the
unexpected omission of Nathan Bracken.

The records of Gillespie and Kasprowicz are
full of parallels. Both debuted against the West
Indies in 1996/7, neither making an impact
until the 1997 Ashes, when they shared 30 wickets. Gillespie then pulled ahead
in the selectors’ minds, playing twice as much Test cricket as his Queenslander
counterpart before both failed dismally in the 2005 Ashes debacle. Kasprowicz
averaged 62.5 with the ball, Dizzy exactly 100.

It was this failure that inspired Cricket Australia’s
subsequent experimentation with untested fast bowlers – an experiment which has
so far produced mixed results.

The two veterans were sent back to state
cricket over summer to rediscover their mojos, and both have done just that.
Unfortunately for both, they have posted Pura Cup results that are as
indistinguishable as they are impressive. Kasprowicz has ten more wickets at 44,
but Gillespie has earned his with fewer runs – 21.85 to Kasper’s 23.13.
Gillespie destroyed Victoria with 7/35, but Kasprowicz had 8/44.

The statistics are endless, but ultimately
not what sends a cricket player on tour. Clearly there is a desire for only one
veteran quick in the current Australian team, and Gillespie’s total meltdown
during 2005 will be fresh in the selectors’ minds. Though Gillespie has worked
hard to regain their trust, a form photo-finish with Michael Kasprowicz was
never going to be good enough.

Aside from automatic selections Brett Lee
and the currently absent Glenn McGrath, Gillespie will now have to fight past
at least Kasprowicz, Tait, Bracken and probably Stuart Clark to earn another
shot. Though age is on his side – he is only thirty, four years younger than
Kasprowicz – every series he misses increases the possibility that we have seen
the last of Dizzy and his dancing mullet.

Peter Fray

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