VIDEO - Gillespie tells Sussex cricketers: Play with pride and passion - and enjoy yourselves

Jason Gillespie breezed into Sussex HQ and immediately told his players: Go out and show how much you enjoy playing cricket.

Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 9:19 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:42 am
Jason Gillespie at Hove / Picture by PW Sporting Photography

The former Aussie pace bowler, now an internationally-renowned coach, believes he has inherited a strong and exciting squad at Hove who can vie for county honours. There are high hopes across the county that the promise shown by the team in recent seasons can turn into a genuine push for honours in any of the three competitions in which they will do battle - division two of the county championship, the One-Day Cup and the T20 Blast.

Gillespie's time at Yorkshire, where he won county championship division-two promotion and then took them to runners-up spot in division one plus two titles, has got Sussex fans dreaming of silverware. He has also impressed in charge of the Adelaide Strikers in the big Bash League in his homeland and players and staff at Hove seem genuinely lifted by his arrival.

He outlined his philosophy and his hopes for his time with Sussex at the county's media day and was careful not to make any big promises about what he and the squad would achieve. But he said he and his fellow staff would challenge the players to be the best cricketers they could be, and enjoy playing the game - and fans should have plenty to shout about.

Jason Gillespie at Hove / Picture by PW Sporting Photography

He said: "It's been great to meet all the lads. We've had a two-day game with Hampshire which was fantastic. With the weather we got a bit more cricket there than we expected. I think the vibe around the group has been excellent. I've been in constant contact with Keith Greenfield and the coaching staff about how things have been going throughout the winter, and then we've had pre-season and the trip to Cape Town.

"The lads have put in the effort and it's pretty obvious they're a good bunch of lads. The attitude I've been impressed with and they seem to be in a pretty good place. I see this next period as about getting to know the lads and seeing how they go about their work and spending time with our support staff to help the lads achieve their goals, being the best cricketers and the best people they can be."

Gillespie had not expected to return to county cricket when he ended his highly-successful spell at Yorkshire. But he said he was glad - and perhaps a little surprised - to be back in England. Although he never planned to move his family back to the UK full-time, once it was clear he could do the Sussex job by coming over for just the English season, he jumped at it.

"I must admit I was a little surprised to be back in county cricket. Yorkshire was great and a county I still hold close to my heart - it's a great place. I made wonderful friends and really enjoyed my time up there. But it was time to move on. We decided as a family to move back home, and we've done that. My family won't be relocating, but we feel we can make it work.

"When I was first contacted about whether I would be interested in being involved with Sussex County Cricket Club, my first thought was one of terrific excitement. Having played and coached against Sussex I thought it would be a pretty good place to work and a good bunch of people to work with. So that wasn't an issue.

"The only thing initially was that I'd just moved back home and how was it going to work from a family point of view? But in speaking with Rob (Andrew, chief executive) and Keith Greenfield (director of cricket) it became pretty clear they had a progressive and flexible attitude. In our continued chats it became obvious we could make it work as a family. I'm very big on family and that's certainly something I'll be instilling here. Family does come first. Once it became clear it could work, the opportunity to work with these players and the support staff became exciting pretty quick. From a cricket point of view it was an easy decision.

"It's a fantastic county and I'm certainly glad I'm with Sussex and not playing against them. There's a doggedness about Sussex and Sussex cricketers. They really get stuck in and there's a real pride and passion. If you look around the rooms and halls here (at the County Ground) there's a real history of county cricket, and that's something I'll be looking to instill in our players.

"We've got a wonderful past at this club. We want to celebrate that - celebrate the history and tradition of this club - but we want to create our own history, our own traditions and challenge these lads so that in 20, 30 years' time when they come back here, the next batch of cricketers are talking about them in the same vein. That is a really good opportunity and challenge for this cricket club to create history. The ball's in their court - they've got that opportunity to create that. And that's pretty exciting for them. As support staff it's something we'll be really pushing them on and allowing them that opportunity."

After his winning ways at Yorkshire, Gillespie accepts there will be high hopes for his arrival at Hove among Sussex's fans. But he is playing it quite cool. "That's other people's expectation and I have just come here with an open mind. I will do the best job I possibly can. My role is head coach but I am a member of the support staff and we will all work together to help this group of players achieve their goals and achieve their dreams.

"We want them to go out there with a smile on their face, wearing that cap on their head and playing with the pride and passion that goes with that. There are some very proud young men here who love the game of cricket and you'll certainly see that. They will be given a licence to go out and enjoy themselves. That's what we're all in the game for. I'm sitting here because I love the game.

"All the boys here, that's why their train and work hard through the winter. They put in the time and the effort to go and play a game they love. And that's by and large how we're going to go about it.

"It's going to be hard work - it doesn't mean we're going to go easy. It doesn't mean we don't challenge the players to be better every day. But the over-riding thing is we're going to enjoy themselves and all our fans are going to see a committed group of lads walk out on to that ground and look to entertain them."

Read more from Gillespie on this website in the next few days - and stick with Sussex Newspapers titles and websites for full coverage of the Sussex Cricket season