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Tragic Warne and Symonds recall in Dizzy’s ‘best 11 off-field’ 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 South Australian radio show.

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

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

He also starred in one of the last pre-social media generations alongside some of the great figures in sports history.

The man known as ‘Dizzy’ went on SEN The SACA show this week and I was given a unique task to complete.

“You obviously have to play with fantastic guys and fantastic cricketers,” host Travis Wakelin told Gillespie.

“We want to hear about your best guys off the field 11. You could have played with or against the players.”

Gillespie admitted he had a hard time deciding on a final list, taking a bit of license with a final team including 13 names, 12 Australians and one Englishman.

“It’s a very difficult list to make,” Gillespie said.

“You meet so many great characters and wonderful people who in turn become your best friends along the journey.

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

“Whether it’s sitting in the locker room and just sharing stories or going out and celebrating as best they can.”

He starts with a former South Australian teammate, Paul Nobes, and Matthew Hayden as the first batters, with Ricky Ponting at no.3.

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

“Not much of a fan of going out, he loved to sit there in white, maybe have a quiet drink and tell stories. He fascinated everyone.

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

Gillespie then inadvertently recalled sadly the loss of two of the great characters of Australian cricket, Andrew Symonds and Shane Warne.

Symonds was just 46 when he died in a car crash in May 2022, while Warne died after suffering a heart attack while on holiday in Thailand two months earlier, at age 52.

“One of my late, great friends, just one of the best guys you could ever meet,” Gillespie said of Symonds.

“He was just a lovely guy, loved his teammates, would do anything for them. You would find him at the hotel bar, holding court, telling stories, also stuffing the stories.

“I remember at his funeral we all remembered the funny stories of Andrew Symonds.

” There are so many. He was an absolute beauty.

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

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

“He loved going out at night and having fun.”

Darren Lehmann, Adam Gilchrist, Ian Harvey, Damien Fleming and Queensland quicks Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel complete the Australian members of the team.

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

“A guy I played with in Yorkshire, a guy called Anthony McGrath, who is one of Darren Lehmann’s best friends,” Gillespie said.

“Simply because he is the funniest person I have ever met in my life.”

Jason Gillespie’s Best Off-Field Guys XI

Paul Nobes
Matthew Hayden
Ricky Ponting
Darren Lehmann
Travis Head and Anthony McGrath
Andrew Symonds
Adam Gilchrist
Ian Harvey
Shane Warné
Damien Fleming
Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel

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