Former Test quick Jason Gillespie in sad Shane Warne, Andrew Symonds reminders in his ‘best off-field 11’ cricket list

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Jason Gillespie has given cricket fans a heartbreaking reminder of what we’ve lost after being asked to come up with a ‘Best Off-field XI’ for a radio show in South Australia.

Gillespie, 48, played 71 Test matches and 97 one-dayers from 1996 to 2005 with the wildly successful Australian cricket team of that era.

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The 195cm fast bowler formed a fearsome tandem with Glenn McGrath, with Gillespie finishing his career with 259 wickets and also famously scoring a Test double-century before moving into coaching.

He also played in one of the last pre-social media generations alongside some of the great characters in the sport’s history.

The man known as “Dizzy” went on SEN’s The SACA Show this week and was given a unique task to complete.

“You obviously got to play with some fantastic blokes and cricketers,” host Travis Wakelin put to Gillespie.

“We want to hear about your best blokes off-field 11. You could’ve played with or against the players.”

Gillespie admitted he had great trouble deciding on a final list, taking a bit of licence with a final team that features 13 names, 12 Aussies and one Englishman.

“It’s a very difficult list to come up with,” Gillespie said.

“You come across so many great characters and great people who in turn become your great mates throughout the journey.

“But I’ve tried to limit this list to guys that really enjoy celebrating a win or just being part of a winning team.

“Whether it’s sitting in the changeroom and just sharing stories or heading out and celebrating as well as they possibly can.”

He starts off with a former South Australian teammate, Paul Nobes, and Matthew Hayden as his opening batters, with Ricky Ponting at No. 3.

“A great storyteller, he loved the changeroom,” Gillespie said of Ponting.

“Not very big about going out, he loved sitting there in his whites, maybe having a quiet drink and telling stories. He had everyone mesmerised.”

Travis Head’s impressive exploits on and off the field during last year’s World Cup triumph got him a spot in the team.

Gillespie then inadvertently gave a sad reminder of the loss of two of the great characters in Australian cricket, Andrew Symonds and Shane Warne.

Symonds was just 46 when he died in a car accident in May, 2022, while Warne passed away due to a heart attack on holiday in Thailand just two months earlier at the age of 52.

“One of my late, great mates, just one of the best blokes you could come across,” Gillespie said of Symonds.

“Just a lovely guy, loved his teammates, would do anything for them. You’d find him in the hotel bar holding court, telling stories, stuffing up the stories as well.

“I remember at his funeral we were all reminiscing on the funny stories of Andrew Symonds.

“There’s so many. He was an absolute beauty.”

Warne, a legend on and off the field, was also a walk-up starter in the team.

“Can’t leave out the great man, the late great Shane Keith Warne,” Gillespie said.

“He loved a night out and enjoyed himself.”

Darren Lehmann, Adam Gilchrist, Ian Harvey, Damien Fleming and Queensland quicks Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel rounded out the Aussie members of the side.

The only non-Australian was an English batsman who played in four Test matches in 2003 and had a long career in County Cricket.

“A guy I played at Yorkshire with, a bloke by the name of Anthony McGrath, who is one of Darren Lehmann’s best mates,” Gillespie said.

“Purely because he is the funniest person I have ever come across in my life.”

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