Jason Gillespie, the Australian Fast bowler, never looks like he can take wickets.
He ambles in, his mullet flying everywhere, and delivers a well directed delivery that is either scored from or forces the batsmen to defend.
I honestly can't remember the last time he even looked threatening. Moreover, he always appears injured and is likely to miss the First Test tonight.
But obviously impressions don't always match with facts.
Everyone's excited about Brett Lee - even though it is highly likely that he will be pummelled by the English batsmen. But people these days are notorious for feeding on impressions rather than cold hard statistics.
My impression of Jason Gillespie is honest - he always appears as though he can't take wickets. But if you look at his record, you will notice that he has taken 248 wickets at 25.72 with a strike rate of 54.73. That is impressive. These statistics indicate that he is a very good bowler.
Strangely, he has taken 5 wickets in an innings only 8 times. That is not many for someone who has played as many tests as he.
Let's compare Gillespie to McGrath, Warne and Lee.
Jason Gillespie 66 Tests, 248 wickets, 5wi 8 times.
Glenn McGrath 109 Tests, 499 wickets, 5wi 26 times.
Shane Warne 123 Tests, 583 wickets, 5wi 29 times.
Brett Lee 37 Tests, 139 wickets, 5wi 4 times.
This means that Gillespie takes 5 wickets in an innings every 8.25 Tests. McGrath takes 5 wickets every 4.2 Tests and Warne every 4.2. Lee is pretty bad at 9.25 Tests (so I'm still wondering what all the fuss is about)
But, of course, Warne and McGrath are better bowlers with better averages than Gillespie. So let's compare him to others who average around the same:
Jason Gillespie, Av. 25.72, 66 Tests, 248 wickets, 5wi 8 times.
Courtney Walsh, Av. 24.44, 132 Tests, 519 wickets, 5wi 22 times.
Ian Botham, Av. 28.40, 102 Tests, 383 wickets, 5wi 27 times.
Bob Willis, Av. 25.19, 90 Tests, 325 wickets, 5wi 16 times.
Remembering the Gillespie takes 5 wickets per innings every 8.25 tests, we see here that Courtney Walsh took 5 wickets every 6 Tests, Botham every 3.8 Tests and Willis every 5.6 Tests.
On average alone, we can see that Gillespie is a far better bowler than Botham - but Botham was obviously able to exert his presence in a Test far more often than Gillespie ever has. Of course, this means that Botham was able to be seen to be successful while Gillespie is not.
How about comparing to some more recent Australian bowlers:
Merv Hughes, Av. 28.38, 53 Tests, 212 wickets, 5wi 7 times
Craig McDermott, Av. 28.63, 71 Tests, 291 wickets, 5wi 14 times
Paul Reiffel, Av. 26.96, 35 Tests, 104 wickets, 5wi 5 times
Hughes took 5 wickets every 7.5 Tests, McDermott every 5 Tests and Reiffel every 7 Tests.
All this proves one thing - that Gillespie is a wonderfully consistent bowler who has contributed greatly to Australia's success since his debut, but has never got the recognition he has deserved because he rarely performs in memorable ways. He is obviously the sort of guy who is consistenting taking 2-51 or 3-77 when he gets out to bowl - great figures for helping to bowl out the opposition but not the 5 wicket hauls that the public demand for great bowlers. For a side containing such great players as Warne and McGrath, the presence of Gillespie at the other end producing consistent wicket-taking pressure allows matches to be won and the glory going to the pretty boys (Gillespie, with his mullet and goatee, is obviously not a pretty boy!)
Jason Neil Gillespie - he can be proud of his achievements, even though no one notices them.
From the This Salient Sporting Life Department
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
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