Australia news May 1, 2013

Format changes, complacency hurt Bailey's Ashes hopes

  shares 22

George Bailey has conceded that he struggled with constantly changing formats last summer, which contributed to his least productive Sheffield Shield campaign since his maiden season in 2004-05. The international retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in the middle of 2012-13 left the selectors looking to Shield form to find batsmen for the Test tour of India and the Ashes, but Bailey managed only 256 runs at 18.28 in Tasmania's successful campaign.

A schedule packed with ODIs, Twenty20 internationals, Ryobi Cup matches, Big Bash League and Sheffield Shield cricket meant that from August last year until the Shield final in March, Bailey had to switch between formats 18 times. That is cricket's equivalent of constant jet-lag, and even for a mature player like Bailey, that proved too great a challenge. It was his four-day cricket that suffered: he scored only one half-century in his eight Shield matches.

"I struggled at different times with switching back through the formats," Bailey said of his 2012-13 season. "That's not an excuse, because I think every modern-day cricketer has to make those changes pretty regularly, but I just didn't adjust to it very well. I certainly felt like I was going into Shield games with a one-day or Twenty20 mentality. It was certainly not a conscious thing, but just not having the awareness and ability to work out how to build your innings."

It was a blow to the Test aspirations of Bailey, who is highly regarded by John Inverarity's selection panel and was on Wednesday named Michael Clarke's vice-captain in Australia's squad for the Champions Trophy. Bailey was appointed captain of Australia's Twenty20 outfit in January last year and over the past 12 months has been the highest run scorer in the ODI team, but his presence in both the shorter formats for Australia has not helped his Shield form.

However, he was far from the only experienced batsman who struggled in the Shield last summer, which has left the selectors scratching around for Test batting options. David Hussey, Adam Voges, Rob Quiney, Michael Klinger and Peter Forrest were among the others who failed to pass the 400-run mark in the Shield and, like Bailey, any of them could have forced their way into Ashes contention with a big summer.

As it was, Chris Rogers managed to do so with a solid tally - Ricky Ponting, Mark Cosgrove, Rogers and Alex Doolan were the top four Shield run scorers for the season. The presence of three Tasmanians in that group helped the Tigers to win the Sheffield Shield but Bailey said it also led to him cruising through the campaign without having to hit top gear. Not since his debut season, when he scored 185 at 23.12, had he endured such a lean first-class season.

"The way our top order was batting there was probably a little bit of complacency there," Bailey said. "Batting behind Mark Cosgrove, who had a fantastic season, Alex Doolan, who is in great form, and the season that Ricky Ponting had, I reckon I just took my foot off the pedal a little bit and thought it was going to happen.

"Quite often I was going to the crease in quite comfortable situations, where in the past I might have gone in under the pump a little bit and you've really got to be switched on. It was a really disappointing individual season, but having said that I probably wouldn't change it for the world because it was such a great team season."

Although the Ashes opportunity has passed him by for the time being, Bailey has at least given himself a chance of strengthening his case for a mid-series call-up if a batsman is injured. He is in England for a two-month county stint with Hampshire and started with an innings of 93 against Leicestershire - higher than any Shield score he made over the past summer.

"One of my fears was coming over here and feeling a bit lethargic or flat, coming straight from the end of one season and such a high to finish the year and straight back into it," he said. "But it's a different group of faces and a new challenge and the opportunity to rectify how my four-day cricket had been, with more consistent four-day games.

"There are quite a few of them in a two-month period; I think I'm playing six or seven over the eight-week period. As soon as I landed here I was really excited and, touch wood, it has started really well thus far. I'm just really enjoying the challenge of playing in different conditions and getting back to working out how to build your innings and bat for long periods."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Meety on | May 1, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    He missed a real chance to put his name forward his summer. Not a good look when 3 of your teammates are in the top 4 leading run scorers & you average 18. Interesting that he has started to score runs in the early County season, but couldn't buy a run in the Shield. It would be good to see him get a ton before he breaks for the Champ Trophy. I think he'll do well - even if I have just put the mockers on him.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | May 3, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    @Clyde on (May 3, 2013, 6:42 GMT) - on the positive, changes to the schedule next year may reduce the impact of changing formats.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | May 3, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    The expose of the devastation caused by multi-form cricket is well continued here. It may turn out to be a fact, after enough such reports, that the constant opportunity to play for four days, which exists in county cricket, is the main secret to Test success. Many players, including the best, need to think full-time about the rhythm they need for the full form of cricket if they are going to play it. Many batsmen would not even get into full stride, or be seeing the ball well, in their first two sessions at the crease. If, as some coaches say, Test cricket is a sophisticated game, surely it is obvious that in general success comes from acknowledging its nature and practising for it. Pentathletes are not expected to be winners against all comers in even one of their five games, so it is unlikely that a first-class cricketer is going to stay at the top if he tries adding versions of the cricket that are as different from Tests or county as, for example, the sprint is from the marathon.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | May 3, 2013, 0:20 GMT

    Good to see Bailey face the fact that switching constantly between the 3 formats is bad for cricketers - we've seen bowlers lose their line & length when switching - Hilfy, Starc... We've seen the lack of controlled aggression by batsmen for a number of years now & finally the NSP have acknowledged the obvious - its bad for cricketers & fans that follow a series...

    It is clearly time for CA to set aside clear seasons for each format: Shield Sept-Dec, BBL Dec-Jan, Ryobi Jan-Mar... This will give our Test hopefulls a decent lead in to show form, while the shorter formats suit the holiday period & late summer crowds...

  • POSTED BY AndrewFromOz on | May 2, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    Oh diddums! He is a mediocre cricketer who some fool in CA thought might be an effective leader. So they try him out in various forms of the game and he complains that his poor form is because he is playing many forms of the game. Get rid of him.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | May 2, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    What are the roles of coach? Different mindset for different format. Even in the world can these players play Test cricket in domestic matches? Dhoni, Warner, Gayle,KP, Sehwag, FAF, AB, Kohli, Dilshan, Bravo, pollard, D.Smith Y.Pathan, raina, Duminy, D.Miller, Akmal brothers, Finch, Gambhir, Jayasurya, Dernbach-- THE answer is YES and their records are excellent. how you make such an excuse. And also look at the Rahul Dravid how well he is in IPL, domestic & International Cricket.

  • POSTED BY Edwards_Anderson on | May 2, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Meety i am with you on this one mate.

  • POSTED BY nickvegas on | May 2, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    Lame excuse. Bailey is rubbish. Fact is Australia has the fewest world class batsmen than any time in the last 40 years. And it won't improve any time soon. # 1 world ranking min 10 years off. In fact I think we will have to wait for all the other teams to come back to our level before it improves

  • POSTED BY Prats6 on | May 2, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    I simply cannot fathom, why Bailey in not in the Test squad? He is a complete package - great attitude, calm head, good batting. Australia would be well served if he is made the deputy to Clarkey.

  • POSTED BY Amith_S on | May 2, 2013, 2:18 GMT

    @Meety is correct, he is a good ODI player but not a test player, this year's shield performance didn't help his cause and I don't buy that its difficult to change between formats, other players have to do he same all over the world, its just not him

  • POSTED BY Meety on | May 1, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    He missed a real chance to put his name forward his summer. Not a good look when 3 of your teammates are in the top 4 leading run scorers & you average 18. Interesting that he has started to score runs in the early County season, but couldn't buy a run in the Shield. It would be good to see him get a ton before he breaks for the Champ Trophy. I think he'll do well - even if I have just put the mockers on him.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | May 3, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    @Clyde on (May 3, 2013, 6:42 GMT) - on the positive, changes to the schedule next year may reduce the impact of changing formats.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | May 3, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    The expose of the devastation caused by multi-form cricket is well continued here. It may turn out to be a fact, after enough such reports, that the constant opportunity to play for four days, which exists in county cricket, is the main secret to Test success. Many players, including the best, need to think full-time about the rhythm they need for the full form of cricket if they are going to play it. Many batsmen would not even get into full stride, or be seeing the ball well, in their first two sessions at the crease. If, as some coaches say, Test cricket is a sophisticated game, surely it is obvious that in general success comes from acknowledging its nature and practising for it. Pentathletes are not expected to be winners against all comers in even one of their five games, so it is unlikely that a first-class cricketer is going to stay at the top if he tries adding versions of the cricket that are as different from Tests or county as, for example, the sprint is from the marathon.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | May 3, 2013, 0:20 GMT

    Good to see Bailey face the fact that switching constantly between the 3 formats is bad for cricketers - we've seen bowlers lose their line & length when switching - Hilfy, Starc... We've seen the lack of controlled aggression by batsmen for a number of years now & finally the NSP have acknowledged the obvious - its bad for cricketers & fans that follow a series...

    It is clearly time for CA to set aside clear seasons for each format: Shield Sept-Dec, BBL Dec-Jan, Ryobi Jan-Mar... This will give our Test hopefulls a decent lead in to show form, while the shorter formats suit the holiday period & late summer crowds...

  • POSTED BY AndrewFromOz on | May 2, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    Oh diddums! He is a mediocre cricketer who some fool in CA thought might be an effective leader. So they try him out in various forms of the game and he complains that his poor form is because he is playing many forms of the game. Get rid of him.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | May 2, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    What are the roles of coach? Different mindset for different format. Even in the world can these players play Test cricket in domestic matches? Dhoni, Warner, Gayle,KP, Sehwag, FAF, AB, Kohli, Dilshan, Bravo, pollard, D.Smith Y.Pathan, raina, Duminy, D.Miller, Akmal brothers, Finch, Gambhir, Jayasurya, Dernbach-- THE answer is YES and their records are excellent. how you make such an excuse. And also look at the Rahul Dravid how well he is in IPL, domestic & International Cricket.

  • POSTED BY Edwards_Anderson on | May 2, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Meety i am with you on this one mate.

  • POSTED BY nickvegas on | May 2, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    Lame excuse. Bailey is rubbish. Fact is Australia has the fewest world class batsmen than any time in the last 40 years. And it won't improve any time soon. # 1 world ranking min 10 years off. In fact I think we will have to wait for all the other teams to come back to our level before it improves

  • POSTED BY Prats6 on | May 2, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    I simply cannot fathom, why Bailey in not in the Test squad? He is a complete package - great attitude, calm head, good batting. Australia would be well served if he is made the deputy to Clarkey.

  • POSTED BY Amith_S on | May 2, 2013, 2:18 GMT

    @Meety is correct, he is a good ODI player but not a test player, this year's shield performance didn't help his cause and I don't buy that its difficult to change between formats, other players have to do he same all over the world, its just not him

  • POSTED BY Cricket_theBestGame on | May 2, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    i really like bailey. he has the personality of a captain and with time in national colours (odi and t20s) he has shown he does belong at this level. i reckon CA will do well to give him a go in one of the test series soon as in my view he'll lead well when required and no question about his batting. he just needs a decent continous run like khawja. all the best bailey

  • POSTED BY on | May 1, 2013, 23:02 GMT

    I think Australia has the talent without question : the likes of Bailey, Warner, Watson, Hughes - these guys can all average 40+ if under the right guidance, ie. leadership. Where things all fall down is with the current captain in Michael Clarke; the guy can bat, about that there is no question. But he is a poor leader who is unable to acquire commitment from his players, and you see things you'd never thought you would see before in Australian cricket such as vice-captains stepping down, averages dropping en masse by 5-10 runs or even worse, people being sent home because they forgot their cut lunch. Its absolutely ridiculous and in my opinion it is entirely due to Clarke being at the helm and not having the player's confidence. The only trouble is, there is nobody else to take his place. But again I believe this is because of Clarke himself; I believe Watson could have made an excellent captain but he wants nothing to do with Clarke and just wanted to step down asap.

  • POSTED BY PFEL on | May 1, 2013, 22:31 GMT

    Sounds like he is just using "format fatigue" as a convenient excuse as to why he underperformed in the Shield. None of the great Aussie players would make excuses like that.

  • POSTED BY Ms.Cricket on | May 1, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    Get tough Bailey, other players from other countries are doing it easelessly e.g. Dhoni etc

  • POSTED BY Meety on | May 1, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter on (May 1, 2013, 10:38 GMT) - you'd pick them on the backs of sub-20 Shield seasons?

    @Jono Makim - Bailey is averaging 38ish in the County season so far, so he is really just maintaining his average. I think he could be very key for us in the Champ Trophy.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | May 1, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    I sincerely hope that this is the last ever test series of Phillip Hughes.

  • POSTED BY burnsy7 on | May 1, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    George Bailey did have disapointing sheild season, but he is ont of australians best players, dont doubt him to force his way in with big performances in the Champions Throphy and in County Cricket. First Choice Backup for the ashes series. He was unlucky to miss out on the ODI player of the year last year, beaten only by Clint McKay i think, and he really did prove himself as 20/20 Captian andstand in captain in the Few ODI's. Class written all over George. Big Fan

  • POSTED BY hycIass on | May 1, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    I am a fan of Bailey in the ODI format but not in test cricket. For the longer format Warner, Khawaja, Clarke and Hughes will be the mainstays of our batting lineup.

  • POSTED BY on | May 1, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    @Meety, I think he'll do well too, looked quite good in the series there last year, even if he did take his time in getting going at times he was quite consistent at least and packs a punch once he's set.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | May 1, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    I still would have picked Bailey and DHuss for the tests.

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | May 1, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    Forget Bailey, start figuring Cosgrove into future Australian plans. He is one of the most talented players going around. He's just...big. Perhaps big is an understatement.

  • POSTED BY on | May 1, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Without doubt an opportunity lost, both for he and Dave Hussey. I guess thats what separates the best from the rest!

  • POSTED BY on | May 1, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Without doubt an opportunity lost, both for he and Dave Hussey. I guess thats what separates the best from the rest!

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | May 1, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    Forget Bailey, start figuring Cosgrove into future Australian plans. He is one of the most talented players going around. He's just...big. Perhaps big is an understatement.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | May 1, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    I still would have picked Bailey and DHuss for the tests.

  • POSTED BY on | May 1, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    @Meety, I think he'll do well too, looked quite good in the series there last year, even if he did take his time in getting going at times he was quite consistent at least and packs a punch once he's set.

  • POSTED BY hycIass on | May 1, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    I am a fan of Bailey in the ODI format but not in test cricket. For the longer format Warner, Khawaja, Clarke and Hughes will be the mainstays of our batting lineup.

  • POSTED BY burnsy7 on | May 1, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    George Bailey did have disapointing sheild season, but he is ont of australians best players, dont doubt him to force his way in with big performances in the Champions Throphy and in County Cricket. First Choice Backup for the ashes series. He was unlucky to miss out on the ODI player of the year last year, beaten only by Clint McKay i think, and he really did prove himself as 20/20 Captian andstand in captain in the Few ODI's. Class written all over George. Big Fan

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | May 1, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    I sincerely hope that this is the last ever test series of Phillip Hughes.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | May 1, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter on (May 1, 2013, 10:38 GMT) - you'd pick them on the backs of sub-20 Shield seasons?

    @Jono Makim - Bailey is averaging 38ish in the County season so far, so he is really just maintaining his average. I think he could be very key for us in the Champ Trophy.

  • POSTED BY Ms.Cricket on | May 1, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    Get tough Bailey, other players from other countries are doing it easelessly e.g. Dhoni etc

  • POSTED BY PFEL on | May 1, 2013, 22:31 GMT

    Sounds like he is just using "format fatigue" as a convenient excuse as to why he underperformed in the Shield. None of the great Aussie players would make excuses like that.