Australia v India, 1st Twenty20, Sydney February 1, 2012

Bailey and the chattering classes

George Bailey used smart tactics to lead Australia to a 31-run win, but he will need runs to put his captaincy above question

As a departure from Australian cricket's long-held creed of picking the best XI and then the captain, George Bailey is going to take some time to silence his doubters.

Though he presided over a 31-run defeat of India in his first match, promoting Matthew Wade to the opener's post where he struck a pivotal 72 and shuffling his bowlers expertly in the field, Bailey still had to answer a question about why he had batted at No. 5 in the final overs, instead of promoting one of Daniel Christian or Mitchell Marsh, the two heavy-hitters beneath him.

Bailey's response was measured, and reasoned, in keeping with the way he led the side. But it is likely he will need to make a few substantial scores in the job before those murmuring voices of suspicion are silenced.

"It would've been nice to get hold of a couple, but I thought it was really tough to get hold of a couple at the end," Bailey said. "Batting with Dave Hussey, who I've spent quite a lot of time batting with, he's one of the cleanest strikers in the world and he was struggling as well. It's nice to know we've got that depth behind us, [but] it wasn't through lack of trying that we were getting singles.

"I thought Matty's [Wade] batting was outstanding, to have someone who the rest of the team can bat around and have that platform makes it very easy, to have someone keeping wickets in hand for Huss to hit out late in the innings was important. I thought our team effort with the bat and the ball, all our bowlers, was really good and it was a great energy. It's hard to tell when you're on the field but my general feeling was there was great energy from our fielding group as well."

It was Hussey's bowling, as much as his batting with Bailey, that tilted things Australia's way. At 34, he continues to earn his way into Australia's Twenty20 and ODI squads, defying younger domestic performers to dislodge him. Few bowlers in the country, let alone batsmen, could have bowled the snaking off break that rattled the stumps of Rohit Sharma, or fielded with the athleticism and enthusiasm Hussey shares with his older brother Michael.

"As an all-round cricketer in the shorter format, he's outstanding, and you can add his fielding to that as well," Bailey said. "One of the great things about our Twenty20 team - and he sums that up beautifully - is consistency, and that's a really hard thing to get in Twenty20. As we just said about the Indian batting, sometimes it just doesn't work but I think with Huss, the way he performs and the way he prepares, is a great thing to watch and a great thing to have him in your team."

The variety of bowling options at Bailey's disposal was rich, from Brett Lee's searing pace to the left-arm wrist spin of Brad Hogg. As a captain who has prospered in Tasmania with resources never quite as ample, Bailey said he had enjoyed the chance to shuffle so many capable operators.

"The beauty and the hard things about Twenty20 is you can make decisions really late, so I've got a bit of a plan, mainly for the first six [overs] and we see how that goes, after that it's just a feel thing," he said "I thought our spinners bowled really well, so they bowled a majority of the overs through the middle there.

"We've got some outstanding death bowlers in Brett ... Xavier [Doherty] bowled a couple of great overs at the death for us, and we've got James Faulkner up our sleeve, who is a great death bowler too. We've got plenty of options, which makes my job pretty easy."

On match eve, Bailey had spoken of needing to have a plan A, B, C and D to cope with Twenty20's fluctuations. He felt match one had gone according to plan A, leaving greater challenges ahead - both from his opponents, and Australian cricket's chattering classes.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cric on February 2, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    the XI for next game should be Gambhir, Sachin (sehwag can be dropped), Virat, Raina,Rohit,MSD,Ashwin, Umesh, Irfan, Praveen, Rahul

  • Tahir on February 2, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    So many losses prompt to at least reshuffling the batting order. Kohli, Ashwin and Dhoni deserve it up the order. Also I am a big fan of Rahul Sharma, he is attacking and should even have played in tests even. It is matter of time as soon as confusion about bringing in new blood and giving them a good run is removed, india will be competitive again. Dhoni will also get motivated to lead a young side. Yesterday, he pulled it a long way despite so much loss earlier.

  • Castin on February 2, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    Its difficult to say anything now, If they go to India they'll face defeat in the same way as england did, so win for australia is only temporary, Big fan of Hoggy!

  • Dummy4 on February 2, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    This is the big difference between the two sides. Even after winning, the Captain of Australian team comes under the scanner, whereas even after so many losses the Indian team is happy to live under the past glory!

  • Roo on February 2, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Listening to Baileys & Arthurs comment, it seems that McKay & Finch will be subbed into the MCG game... Probably leaving out Faulkner & Birt... Not sure what will happen with S Marsh - maybe miss the series?... Can't seeing him replace David Hussey after Wednesdays game... Would really like to see Mitch moved up to at least no.4 as he performed very well for the Scorchers up the order...

  • Roo on February 2, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    @Daniel Brettig :- "As a departure from Australian cricket's long-held creed of picking the best XI and then the captain, George Bailey is going to take some time to silence his doubters" ... ... The only people doubting Bailey are the fools who know nothing about cricket strategy... Ohh, & your comment about how teams are picked shows your lack of knowledge about cricket :P... Selectors always pick a captain 1st & foremost, then the selectors pick the team around him... Its CA policy that the 3 selectors + captain + coach select the team or haven't you been reading the sports news?...

  • Dummy4 on February 2, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    seems very confident . the real test of captaincy is longer version of the game

  • Michael on February 2, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    Have to disagree with smudgeon. There should be no doubt about the captain's place in the Australian side. If he's not the best player in the team he should be at least one of the first players picked everytime. Michael Clarke realised he wasn't one of the best XI Twenty20 players in the country so retired to avoid ending up in the situation Cameron White has found himself in. CA obviously have high hopes for Bailey, and good luck to him, but they should only select him for longer forms of the game as his batting doesn't look to be well suited to the shortest format of the game.

  • Dummy4 on February 2, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    I still think Dan Christian should make way for another fast bowler. On SL pitches you cannot always rely on medium pace bowlers to keep things under control

  • Nick on February 2, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    @serious-am-i, Brad Hogg was unplayable ! Hoggy made MS Dhoni look foolish more often than not

    I reckon that Bailey should bat at 8 and play as the SPECIALIST captain, batting order should be 1.Warner 2.Wade 3.Birt 4.Hussey 5.Marsh 6.Christian 7.Faulkner 8.Bailey 9.Lee 10.Doherty 11.Hogg

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