Australia's transient ODI captaincy
Before he began to answer questions about the Australia Day match against India, George Bailey joked about the revolving-door nature of the team's ODI captaincy - you never know who's going to walk through the door.
Australia's training session on Sunday brought this home, as the incumbent Bailey and his Hobart substitute Steven Smith played fluently in the nets while the rehabilitating Michael Clarke looked pensively on in his training shirt and shorts. It is the sort of "too many cooks" scenario that has brought many a cricket team down in the past, but for the moment it seems each leader is able to work with light enough hands to ensure their fingerprints are not too distracting for the next man.
"To Michael's credit when he hasn't played he's certainly allowed it to be my team," Bailey said. "A lot of the tours where it's happened overseas and he's still been there it's probably difficult for him to step back, but that's really helped me not to put my stamp on things because I don't think I do things all that differently. I think I'm pretty collaborative in the way I try and approach things. I don't think it's Michael's team or my team, I think it's our team at the moment."
It helps that Bailey is a man of equable temperament and rare maturity among cricketers, able to see the wider picture more effectively than many others. Then there is the fact that the Australian team is these days run conclusively by Darren Lehmann, to the point that neither the captain nor the team manager Gavin Dovey can sign off on much at all without the coach's input or approval.
Lehmann's deliberations will include Bailey's place in the XI should Clarke prove his fitness in time to lead during the World Cup; with Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Smith and Clarke there is something of a queue formed for middle-order spots after the opening combination of Aaron Finch and David Warner. Bailey is not allowing himself to be too wrapped up in the various scenarios that may unfold.
"If Pup's there one of the batsmen makes way, if it's me or someone else that's how it is," he said. "I know you guys love writing about it but if I'm not scoring runs and they pick him, that's fine, that's the nature of the game. You're scoring runs or you're not scoring runs - you get picked or you don't. It's a really basic equation.
"It's a very enjoyable thing to do, to captain your country. Tomorrow will be fun, captaining on Australia Day, that will be a real buzz. I've always said it's something I've enjoyed because it gives you a unique opportunity to share the success of others - talking to the bowlers about their plans and how they want to execute, seeing it come to fruition, talking to the batters about their different roles and how that's going to pan out then seeing that happen. It's an honour to have that role - a unique and special viewpoint to have."
How much longer Bailey can enjoy that viewpoint, or that of a middle-order batsman, will depend on whether he can regain the fluency and form of 2013, when his awareness of match scenarios and knack for power-hitting made him one of the world's more effective ODI batsmen. His runs have faded more recently, something Bailey attributed partly to greater success being enjoyed further up the order.
"It'll sound a bit silly but I think we've been batting really well as a group, so in terms of my role I've been coming in a touch later than when I was scoring big runs," he said. "So I feel like I'm batting as well as I ever have, it's just a matter of getting some balls in the middle. But hopefully we continue batting as well as we are at the top of the order and that role continues to be a finishing role at the end."
Bailey does not expect to have Mitchell Johnson in harness on Monday, though he has bowled swiftly and well in sessions on both Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Having faced Johnson in the first of these stints, Bailey said Australia's spearhead was likely to return to the team for the triangular series final in Perth in a week's time. Watson is also to remain sidelined, while Warner, Xavier Doherty, Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood may all be in line to return to action. Maxwell and Pat Cummins are two who may have a spell.
"What's really pleasing at the moment, in all formats, is the depth of cricketers we've got and the way guys can seamlessly come in from outside the squad or within teams and immediately start performing," Bailey said. "That's been really pleasing. It just comes down to having really clear plans within that group.
"It doesn't matter if guys come in for their first game, or guys are coming back in the squad after time out, they're able to slot into a role that's well defined for them - with how the captain or team wants them to play. The way Boof and staff integrate guys when they come in, it's been pretty easy in terms of welcoming the guys in."
For the time being, that also includes the identity of the captain.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig