Gillespie praises South Australia’s pace as the best in the country

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By Webdesk

Head coach Jason Gillespie believes South Australia has assembled the strongest group of fast bowlers in state cricket amid signs of a rejuvenation in the team’s fortunes.

“We worked really hard to get some depth in our bowling,” Gillespie told reporters in Adelaide. “We had three bowlers with Australia A in New Zealand at the end of the Shield season [and] we currently have three fast bowlers playing county cricket.

“I’m not sure how many other states have three fast bowlers playing in the County Championship, so that’s real kudos here and a real credit to those individuals and recognition for the work they’re doing for South Australia, which is great.

“Being able to take 20 wickets consistently in Shield cricket is what contributes to Shield wins. Having that depth of bowling is fantastic and I think we have the best depth of fast bowling in the country so there I am very excited about it.”

The two new additions to the South Australian men’s roster for next season have arrived with the recruitment of Jake Fraser-McGurk from Victoria and the return of Kelvin Smith who was first signed in 2014 before dropping out of the state system. Gillespie hopes to unlock the potential of 21-year-old Fraser-McGurk, who made his first-class debut aged 17 and brought what remains of his half-century.

“There’s a talented cricketer there,” said Gillespie. “He’s a fine batsman and an absolute jet in the field. We’re delighted to give him a chance and certainly believe he has the skills to play an important role.”

Smith returned to South Australia’s colors with a last-minute comeback in the Marsh Cup Final, then the last Shield game of the season, and will compete to fill the opening role created by the move of Jake Weatherald to Tasmania.

“Kelvin is a great story that got to fame at a young age and then lost that opportunity,” said Gillespie. “[He] kept scoring points at premier level, moved to another state [WA] and kept scoring points, didn’t quite get the chance there, came back and kept scoring points when an opportunity presented itself. We should all be celebrating that as a great cricket story.”

Gillespie also called for continued patience in the development of legspinner Lloyd Pope, who was one of several players to sign a contract extension despite not playing a first-team game last season. Pope was the leading wicket-taker in the 2nd XI league with 37 in five matches but was unable to work his way into the Shield or Marsh Cup sides, partly due to Ben Manenti’s success.

“I felt this was Lloyd’s best season last season,” said Gillespie. “I know people say ‘that’s a bit weird, he hasn’t played a game yet’ but he’s constantly developing his bowling. He’s making the improvements that he and the coaches have identified. There’s no reason why Lloyd isn’t in the same side as Ben Manenti depending on the circumstances and circumstances.

“Lloyd did nothing wrong, he was bowling beautifully and just needs to be patient. We have to remember with Lloyd Pope, he’s 22 years old, he’s a young man and he’s in a craft that’s notoriously one of the most challenging in our sport.” and think he’s progressing wonderfully well. We have a lot of confidence and belief in Lloyd Pope and what he has to offer, not only in the next year, but also in the long term.”

South Australia Men’s Contracts 2023-24 Wes Agar, Kyle Brazell (R), Jordan Buckingham, Aidan Cahill (R), Jake Carder, Alex Carey (CA), Harry Conway, Brendan Doggett, Daniel Drew, Jake Fraser-McGurk, David Grant, Travis Head (CA), Isaac Higgins (R), Henry Hunt, Thomas Kelly, Jake Lehmann, Ben Manenti, Harry Matthias (R), Nathan McAndrew, Nathan McSweeney, Harry Nielsen, Lloyd Pope, Liam Scott, Henry Thornton, Spencer Johnson, Kelvin Smith

CA = Cricket Australia contract, R = Rookie contract

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