Ex Notts skipper Jason Gallian looks back on his fiery test debut

With England’s international season due to get under way shortly, former Nottinghamshire skipper Jason Gallian has been reflecting on his own fiery introduction to Test cricket, exactly 25 years ago.

By Dave Bracegirdle
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 4:56 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th June 2020, 4:57 pm
Jason Gallian hits out on the way to his 91 during a Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy match against Derbyshire in. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Jason Gallian hits out on the way to his 91 during a Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy match against Derbyshire in. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

In July 1995 the country was captivated by a thrilling series between England and Richie Richardson’s West Indies’ side that stood at one match each when Gallian was called up for the third Test at Edgbaston.

“I remember finding out that I was in the squad whilst on the way to Oxford to play in a benefit match for Neil Fairbrother,” he recalled.

“Michael Atherton (the England captain) apologised later, saying he hadn’t been able to get hold of me but that he’d see me there.

Jason Gallian in action for Notts against Durham at Trent Bridge on May 27, 2004, in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

“It was all a little surreal but my mum and dad were able to get over from Australia and there were lots of ‘Good Luck’ messages from friends and well-wishers.”

Gallian had been born in Manly, New South Wales, and had played for Australia’s U19s before moving to the UK. A successful tour of India for England’s A side had put him on the selector’s radar and a glut of runs in a Lancashire top order enhanced his claims further.

“The night before the Test I was told that we’d be having dinner with Raymond Illingworth, the Chairman of Selectors, and I mustn’t be late.”

“I came out of the lift and saw Robin Smith, all dressed up in his England blazer and tie and realised I’d better go back and change out of my polo shirt and chino’s,” he said. “When I got back, late, the only spare seat was next to the Chairman.

All the pre-match talk ahead of that Test had centred on the Edgbaston strip.

He added: “They’d shaved both ends and left grass in the middle, we batted first and I was in at number six before lunch. I did all the right things, got off the mark and saw it through but then got one from Walsh afterwards that struck me on the finger.

“When I got out I went for an x-ray and it was broken. I wasn’t alone, I think both Alec Stewart and Jack Russell suffered similar injuries and we were well beaten inside two and a half days.”

Healed from his injury Gallian returned for the final match of the series, the sixth Test at The Oval, where he had a ringside view of Brian Lara scoring 179 for the visitors.

“A couple of years ago I was invited to a lunch at Lord’s and thought I’d nip to the loo beforehand. Brian was in there – he had been asked to ring the bell for the start of a Test match. He clearly didn’t remember who I was. I just said, “Hello, you hit me for the biggest six in my career.”

Gallian’s third and final Test match appearance came against another fearsome attack, when he faced South Africa’s Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock in Port Elizabeth, a few months later.

“It’s the old adage, I’ve got the cap and they can’t take it away from you”, he laughed.

In 1998 the right-handed batsman made the move from Old Trafford to Trent Bridge.

“Alan Ormrod was the Notts coach and he’d brought me over from Australia to play for Lancs. I was ready for a new challenge and liked what both him and Mark Arthur, the chief executive, had to say,” he said.

Gallian assumed the captaincy in his first season and enjoyed a great period of personal sucesss, particularly as part of an opening duo with Darren Bicknell.

“We gelled well together,” he remarked. “We both had a similar temperament. It’s not the easiest thing, batting at Trent Bridge early on but once you’ve seen off that first wave you were in and set to bat all day if you could.”

Fleming took over as captain for the 2005 summer, a campaign that ultimately ended in triumph, with Notts lifting the county championship title but Gallian’s role was instrumental, scoring 1,220 first class runs at an average of over 53.

“Mick Newell had decided that it was time for a change and sometimes when the pressure is off you can get on with your own game.”

Amongst that massive haul of runs were some stand-out scores. On two occasions he made 199 and each time he was run out going for a single to bring up the 200. He remains the only player to be dismissed twice on 199 in first class cricket.

“The first time it was my fault but the second it was definitely Mark Ealham’s, although he was trying to get me there. He knew how tired I was and pushed me but it was a super throw as well, just one of those things.”

During his time at Trent Bridge Gallian oversaw the introduction of the domestic T20 competition and was captain for the opening fixture in 2003.

“I think it was viewed as just a bit of a hit and giggle at first,” he reflected. “Initially, I think, it was used as a marketing tool for new spectators to cricket, something that was trying to compete with football.

“We were all very relaxed about it at the start but after only a couple of games everyone very much wanted to be part of it. Now it has become one of the most lucrative and most watched types of sport in t he world.”

Gallian celebrated his 49th birthday this week and is eager to see some normality return to the British summer.

As head of cricket and an assistant house master at Felsted School in Essex the former England international has seen nets open for one on one training recently and is now looking forward to the return of Test match cricket, albeit under very different circumstances.

“It will be great to have some live sport back for the public to view and we hope that some recreational can return under the right circumstances. It is important that we can start playing again at grassroots level.”