George Bailey pledges to maintain standards
New captain, new format, same attitude. Australia's new Twenty20 captain, George Bailey, has set himself the marker of ensuring the high standards reached by the Test team against India do not slacken in the game's shortest format.
Bailey has been passed the leadership baton from Test captain Michael Clarke and is leading a much-changed side in the first Twenty20 at Sydney's Olympic Stadium. He is intent on making sure India are again pressed to their limits and beyond by a team that works harder and more assiduously at the game's fundamentals, irrespective of the difference in format and personnel. Bailey also wants to keep the sense of happiness and clear objectives maintained under Clarke, mindful his group has only six fixtures between now and the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September.
"It's important we continue the momentum of the Test team, not just in the cricket they played, but in the standards they're setting in the Test team at their training and the great feel around the group as well," Bailey said. "We've spoken about that and about the great energy they've provided, and the great start and the great feeling among that group, and how they feel like they've set a real standard.
"We've talked about that as a T20 group as well, continuing that, allowing the one-day side to have that feeling when they get together as well, and knowing you don't get the T20 group together that often, so up until the World Cup in six months time we've got six games. Every opportunity we get to hit the ground running and make a big impression, we have to take."
As the first Australian since Dave Gregory in the first Test match of all to make his international debut as captain, Bailey is poised to create rare history. The other side of this achievement, of course, are the sniggers about whether or not Bailey is worth his place in the XI, having been elevated to the role as much for his leadership as his feisty middle-order batting.
"It wasn't me who picked the team. I'm just excited to be here and be leading it and hopefully continuing on the great form and the great start to the summer that Australia have had," Bailey said. "I'm nervous about both [captaincy and debut], from the playing aspect you're anxious to get out there and perform really well, and the captaining side of things I'm really comfortable with that, it's more getting to know the players as quickly as I can. We've had some great training sessions, really hard sessions … once I get my head around knowing the players as well as I can, that'll fall into place nicely."
At the opposite end of the scale to Bailey in terms of international experience are Brett Lee and Brad Hogg, two well-travelled bowlers likely to play a significant role for the new captain at the top and tail of the Indian innings. Bailey said Lee's leadership of the bowling attack would be critical.
"That experience is going to be really important and something that we'll tap into," he said. "I think his numbers in the recent Big Bash were outstanding, particularly for someone who bowls in your key periods at the top and also at the death. Lee embraces that role as the leading fast bowler in our team, and his experience is outstanding, and the thing I love about him is just how competitive he is."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here