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Cricket: What next for Adelaide Strikers after Gillespie exit?

Jason Gillespie has opted to leave his position as head coach of Adelaide Strikers after nine years at the helm, having guided the franchise to Big Bash League glory in BBL07 back in 2017/18.

Gillespie went on to combine that role with being coach of South Australia from 2020, but his time in that position saw the Redbacks struggle to make their mark in either the Sheffield Shield or the Marsh Cup.

The former Australia quick is now plotting a future elsewhere, telling reporters: "Looking forward, I am excited to explore new opportunities and pursue the next chapter in my career."

Gillespie arrived with proven record

When Gillespie took charge of the Strikers he had already proved himself as a top-class performer as both a player and coach.

He played in 71 Test matches for the Baggy Greens, taking 259 wickets at an average of 26.13, while with the bat he made a famous 201 not out against Bangladesh in what proved to be his final Test innings.

As a coach he made his name in England as he led Yorkshire to successive County Championship titles and was a realistic contender for the national team job before opting to head home and take up the reins in his home State.

The pinnacle of his Strikers reign came in early February 2018, when Adelaide beat Hobart Hurricanes by 25 runs to be crowned Big Bash champions.

Gillespie led the Strikers to the knockout stages in four of the following six seasons, but they were unable to add another title to their honours roll.

Strikers role sure to appeal

It seems likely that the coaching roles in South Australia will be split following the exit of Gillespie, but any decision is on hold for now with general manager of high performance Tim Nielsen having left his position at the same time as Gillespie.

However, there is a leading candidate already in the system, with former Australia captain Tim Paine having acted as an assistant to Gillespie last season and already voiced his interest in the top job.

Paine told reporters: "I would be very interested certainly in having a crack at getting the job."

However, that came with the caveat of not wanting to also being in charge of South Australia in red and white-ball cricket.

Luke Williams has opted to stay on as an assistant coach for the next BBL campaign and he may be a candidate if the SA cricket powers that be decide to go down the spilt coaching set-up.

New coach has strong base to build from

Whoever does succeed Gillespie as Strikers coach will step into a franchise who appear to be in a good place, with them having reached the Challenger stage of the play-offs in BBL13, where they lost to eventual champions Brisbane Heat.

They have also secured the services of key spinner Cameron Boyce on a new two-year contract, while captain Matt Short was named as the BBL Player of the Tournament for the second successive season.

The strength of the current Strikers squad is shown by the fact that Short is only the third player to win back-to-back awards, with Adelaide colleagues D'Arcy Short and Chris Lynn the other two names on the shortlist of excellence.

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