Despite Jason Gillespie eking his way to a
record-breaking 201 not out, running out his captain along the way, outscoring
his more highly fancied batting partners, and setting up victory for Australia,
he remains an unlikely starter for the Ashes come November.

Unless, of course, the selectors are
prepared to pick him as a batsman or put him in as the all-rounder. And that’s
about as likely as a government minister remembering something.

If Gillespie thinks scoring a double
century makes him undroppable, he need only speak to Brad Hodge, who actually
works as a batsman, scored a double ton against South Africa – a reputable opponent – only to find himself on the sidelines
three Tests later. As Hodge discovered, the selectors are very good at
putting performances in perspective.

While selectors are forever
saying players
need to take their opportunities, it doesn’t matter if you follow
that
instruction, break a host of records in the process, resurrect your
career, lose your mullet, and make headlines at home, there are no
guarantees the
selectors will honour your achievements with a call-up.

Players like Mike Hussey – who made a lazy
182 to accompany Gillespie’s 201 – spent the best part of a decade piling runs
upon runs before earning his spot in the team. And as Damien Martyn will tell
you, getting back into the Australian team requires minor miracles. Luckily for
Dizzy, every other quick in the country was tested over the summer and failed
spectacularly.

And finally, Jason Gillespie is not Glenn
McGrath, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Shane Warne or Stuart MacGill, all of whom
stand ahead of him in the queue for the bowling places in the Ashes squad, which
leaves Dizzy precisely where he was before he joined the Aussies in Bangladesh.

But it’s not all darkness and gloom for Australia’s
latest cricket hero. Given that McGrath will be coming into the Ashes off an
extended break, there’s just the slightest chance, a tiny ray of Ashes hope, that
Gillespie may fill those size 13s.

Peter Fray

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