Former Australia fast-bowler Jason Gillespie is set to take the coaching reins of Papua New Guinea on an interim basis as the burgeoning cricketing nation push for 2019 World Cup qualification.
Cricket Papua New Guinea chief executive Greg Campbell confirmed this week Gillespie, initially appointed as a consultant on a 12-month term, will fill in as interim head coach of the national side following the departure of former mentor Dipak Patel.
The Barramundis are set for a busy few months of cricket with a series of games against the National Performance Squad, the Australian Indigenous team and a Queensland XI in August, before hosting Scotland for two crucial matches in October.
“I’m really excited about it, as much to have another cricketing experience with another team and another country,” Gillespie told cricket.com.au.
“It broadens my experiences and broadens my learning and hopefully it will hold me in good stead going forward.
“I’ll be interested to see firsthand how these guys go.”
With the Australia A tour to South Africa cancelled due to the ongoing pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association, Gillespie, who’d been appointed head coach of the ‘A’ side, is now set to link up with the PNG squad in Port Moresby later this month.
The former Yorkshire coach ruled out taking on the PNG job full-time due to his commitments with the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League, but said he’s looking forward to his upcoming stint.
“I have never been to PNG before,” the 42-year-old said. “I’m going to go up at the end of the month for a meet and greet, meet the players and staff and get to know everyone.
“I’m just excited to see how these guys go about their work. I’ve heard a lot of very good things.
“Papua New Guinea played against Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi in the preseason and I spoke to a few of my friends at Yorkshire and they said the PNG guys were fantastic.
“Speaking to Tim Nielsen, the high-performance manager at the SACA, he talked about how competitive the PNG guys are in the SACA Premier League.”
The World Cricket League Championship matches against Scotland loom large for the fledgling cricket nation in their push for the 2019 World Cup in the United Kingdom.
PNG narrowly missed out on qualifying for the last World Cup in 2015. They were however granted one-day and T20 international status by the International Cricket Council, and presently sit second on the World Cricket League Championship, the rung below the top flight of ODI cricket.
The ICC have reduced the number of teams to compete at the 50-over World Cup from 14 down to 10, making it tougher for the likes of PNG to qualify.
But strong showings against Scotland in their final two matches of the WCL Championship will seal a spot in the top-four and secure a berth at next year’s ICC World Cup qualifying tournament. The top-two sides from that competition will feature at the 2019 World Cup.
While arrangements for Gillespie’s stint are still being finalised, Campbell expects the 71-Test veteran to assist other coaches in the Pacific nation as part of his new role.
“We had conversations with Jason Gillespie earlier in the year about coming on as a consultant coach and Jason accepted that position,” Campbell explained on ABC radio’s Pacific Beat.
“After Dipak departed, I spoke to Jason a little more in-depth and he agreed to fill that spot for the next 2-3 months.
“Jason will (also) be around the group for the next 12 months as a consultant coach and that will involve working with all the coaches and the other teams.”