JASON GILLESPIE’s departure as Yorkshire’s first-team coach, after five years in charge of the county champions, had been on the cards for some time.
Earlier this summer, Gillespie’s wife, Anna, and their four children moved back to Adelaide in Australia.
It would be a strange marriage that could survive for several months apart on opposite sides of the world, although, on second thoughts, some couples would probably relish that thought.
Flippancy aside, Yorkshire had hoped to get at least one more year out of Gillespie, whose future had been the subject of regular speculation since he took the job in 2011.
Since then, the former Australia fast bowler has helped the club to one County Championship promotion and to back-to-back Championship titles, with the prospect of a hat-trick to follow next month.
Under Gillespie, Yorkshire have also twice reached NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day and successive Royal London Cup semi-finals, although, after 14 years without a one-day trophy, they have yet to crack limited-overs cricket in quite the same way.
Gillespie’s track record, however, speaks for itself (Yorkshire have lost only five of 76 Championship games since his arrival), and he has been linked with practically more international coaching positions than there are jobs vacant.
There are many observers –this correspondent included –who thought that he should have got the England job last year, an opinion that has not been altered by progress under Trevor Bayliss.
Gillespie has also been linked with international positions back home, where his great friend and former team-mate Darren Lehmann is in charge of the Australia side.
Gillespie already doubles up as coach of the Big Bash franchise Adelaide Strikers, and potential moves for him now could include international cricket/the Indian Premier League.
Although Yorkshire will be sad to see him go, it was a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’, Gillespie left.
The time would seem right for him not only from a family perspective, but also, one suspects, from a cricketing point of view.
Gillespie has probably taken Yorkshire as far as he can; their performances in the Championship this summer have actually tailed off a touch, although they have been more affected by injuries than in recent seasons, and they go into the final four matches just five points behind leaders Middlesex.
But it has not been the dominant campaign that many had hoped, although the end result is all that counts, and the players will be doubly determined to give Gillespie a successful send-off.
Yorkshire’s magnificent pace attack is not getting any younger, and although there is no reason to suspect that the current side cannot aim to stretch their run of titles to at least four or five in a row, Yorkshire must soon face such unpalatable questions as: “Exactly how do you replace Ryan Sidebottom?”
Sport moves in cycles, and Gillespie has been part of a golden cycle at Yorkshire. He will leave with the thanks of the club’s supporters, who already respected him for what he achieved as a player.
As a key member of the great Australia side of the Nineties and Noughties, Gillespie took 402 international wickets. As a coach, it is noticeable that he never speaks about that success, or indeed seeks credit for Yorkshire’s recent triumphs.
He appreciates that it is players who win silverware first and foremost, and that support staff, in a nutshell, are exactly what that term would imply.
Gillespie’s coaching methods would seem quite simple: he does not over-complicate the game, but encourages his players to perform with freedom and to try to take the positive option.
He recognises the importance of making sure that the players believe that the coach believes in them, and his style is more arm-around-the-shoulder than ranter-and-raver.
Like all in sport, however, he hides a tough streak, although never quite to the extent that it masks a cheerful personality for too long.
At heart, he is a thoroughly decent chap: friendly, personable, and with time for all.
Even his infamous comments about the dairy industry, which he suggested earlier this summer should be closed down as it does not tie in with his vegan views, betrayed that decency and caring disposition, even if they were not shared by everyone – not least the Yorkshire sponsors, Wensleydale Cheese.
Yorkshire will not replace him easily, but a team of talented cricketers will cope.
Gillespie himself has seen to it, by helping to create a culture that will not be broken just because the time has come for him to say goodbye.