Australia v WI, 2nd semi-final, World T20 2012, Colombo October 5, 2012

Bailey's fatal blunder

The Australia captain was probably the only one who thought giving Xavier Doherty the last over against Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard wasn't a mistake

George Bailey and Xavier Doherty have known each other since they were kids. Tonight Bailey tested that friendship by throwing Doherty into a vat of acid to see if he could swim. Doherty was demolished.

There was no one other than Bailey who thought bowling Doherty in that last over was anything other than a colossal mistake. West Indies had the two people in world cricket most likely to eat Doherty alive with the bat in their hands. They were well set, relaxed, already had a big total, and had cartoon drool coming out of their mouths as Doherty held the ball at the top of his mark.

Doherty's first two overs had gone for 23, it was probably his worst bowling performance of the tournament already, and now he had six balls at Pollard and Gayle when they only had one thing on their minds, how far they could hit him.

To his credit, Doherty looked reasonably calm as he walked up. There was no reason to be calm. The score was already 180, and Australia had only taken three wickets. He and Bailey placed the field carefully, although it seemed like a waste of time even then.

The first ball was a disaster. It couldn't have been worse. A finger-spinner bowling a knee-high full toss to Chris Gayle is like throwing a cabbage at Swamp Thing. Gayle just hit it. He's been hitting full tosses for six since he grew fingernails in the womb. Sometimes you hear the commentators say that low full tosses can be really hard to get away. They don't mean this kind; this kind is hit for six by players who don't hit sixes. Gayle smashed it.

Brad Hogg had been the pick of the spinners in this match, he had an over left. David Hussey was quite often used at the death, he had two overs left. It's doubtful whether any other captain would have thrown the ball to Doherty, or found a situation where he thought it was the right thing to do. Doherty is good at the start, against South Africa he set up the match with the new ball. He slides the new ball well, and gets just enough purchase to make the batsmen worry. At the end he seems like a less-viable candidate as he has little mystery and seems to come onto the bat really well.

The next ball had to be something special, it had to land to begin with. It had to be out of Gayle's arc and it had to stay on the playing surface. Doherty showed that he was calm and good enough to bowl the finger-spinner's trusty retort, the fired-in one at the pads. Gayle couldn't smash it, he couldn't do much with it at all, he just let it hit his pad and limp a single.

In normal life, and for large parts of the rest of the innings, Gayle being off strike had been Australia's dream. It seemed much of their tactic was simply to keep him from being on strike. Considering Gayle had batted the entire 19.2 overs, and the score wasn't 300, it had worked. But now Kieron Pollard was in. Pollard is someone who can look rubbish at the start of any tournament or series, but then he warms up. Considering he often struggles against real pace, and he'd just driven a 150km yorker for four and scooped another one straight over his head, it was quite clear he was the Killer Kieron, not the Pillock Pollard.

Doherty went straight at him on a length, probably thinking he could slip one through him. As he saw Pollard get down on one knee, he must have even thought he'd got under the bat on a pitch where the spinners had kept the odd ball low. Instead Pollard slogged it hard to midwicket, flat and dangerous. Hogg came around, and flung his hand at it, but was probably lucky it didn't take his hand for six as well.

This was now horrible for Doherty. Much like in Adelaide.

Doherty's often been thought of as a good limited-overs bowler, but many were shocked when he was brought into the Australian Test squad. The man had a stutter ball, was often calm under pressure and had good control, but nothing about him screamed Test bowler. He was clearly brought in as the left-arm equivalent of Nathan Haurtiz, a stocker bowler who could keep the run-rate down.

In Adelaide, Kevin Pietersen ruined that theory. Pietersen looked like he wanted to take out all his previous bad-form frustration and problems with losing the captaincy out on Doherty. It was brutal punishment, and the one thing Doherty was supposed to do, he couldn't. Pietersen was simply too good, too aggressive, and Doherty was yanked from attack between the 65th to the 103rd over. Bowling between overs 65 to 80 was one of the main reasons he was in the side in the first place.

Yet again he had a KP tormenting him. And his fourth ball was a low full toss, the one that is supposed to be hard to hit. Pollard hit it hard. He cleared long-off with it. West Indies had now scored 19 runs off the over, and were 199.

Doherty's over was now beyond horrible, and there were still two balls left. Doherty bowled seam when he was a kid, and he resorted to what seamers do when the batsmen is hitting them everywhere. Full and straight. Perhaps Pollard moved back in the crease, maybe Doherty missed the blockhole by an inch or two, but Pollard just blew it away for another six.

The West Indies had now jumped the magical 200-mark. Even the superhuman Shane Watson would struggle to get Australia there. The last ball from Doherty was much like when he took the wicket of KP in Adelaide, it meant nothing; all the damage was done, and would be replayed for years to come. Pollard slicing the ball to long-off was not a victory for Australia, Doherty or Bailey; it was just a chance to leave the field.

By the time Bailey was next involved in the game, Australia could not win the match. Bailey played perhaps his best innings for Australia. It showed guts, determination, took a swipe at his many detractors and was the only reason Australia made it to triple-figures. There was proper anger in his batting, he really wanted to make a mark. It was also like screaming at a hurricane.

For Doherty there was no fightback, saving grace or moral victory; he was simply the victim. The only screams for Doherty were screams of laughter from the people who've never had to bowl the last over of an innings at two of nature's perfect killers while the cricket world watches.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on October 8, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    @Milhouse79...the disregard that so many feel for T20 existed long before this tournament did and were Australia world champions,it would make no difference to that opinion. T20 matches are 240 balls long in total in a match between 22 men, or under 11 balls each. It fails to address virtually any of the core tenets that underscore long form crickets 135 year history. Cricket itself is a promoter of virtues of character that represent and transfer the ideals of the national ethos. They can be found in endurance, patience, work ethic, concentration,reward for effort and striving for worthy goals. Bowling 4 overs or batting even the full 120 balls has no long format relevance.It has also undermined the bodies governing international cricket by creating free agency for players outside traditional paths. It has seen the flooding of meaningless international contests,made for tv,with sub standard players who lack the skill sets for national duties. It has diminished the quality of cricket.

  • Sean on October 8, 2012, 1:59 GMT

    An embarrassing mismatch here...

  • Dummy4 on October 7, 2012, 23:24 GMT

    Bailey is clearly the WORST captain in International cricket in any format. Who in their right mind puts Doherty on for the final over against those two (or any two for that matter). PLEASE can any ozzies here (especially Randy Oz who's very quiet on this forum) answer the reason why??

  • Chris on October 7, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    How about some credit to the Windies? They batted well and deserved to win a place in the final (which they have since won). The game was well and truly over before X came on to bowl, to devote the best part of an article to what a blunder it was to bowl him at that time of the match cheapens what a great performance it was from the Windies. Has the bloke run over your cat or stolen your girlfriend?

  • Colin on October 7, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    It makes me laugh when I read so many Aussies dismiss the importance and significance of T20 when you guys lose. You lost and like every other sporting loss; there is always an excuse. There are massive issues with Australian cricket and the fact that cricketers like Bailey, Doherty, Cowan, Smith, Forrest, White, Johnson and D Hussey play international cricket shows how weak the Aussies are. You guys need to do what you did in the 80s and invest time in the youngsters (like some of the impressive under 19 squad) and hope that comes to fruition. A better idea than have jokers like Doherty and Bailey embarrass themselves and their country over and over again.

  • Balakumar on October 7, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    Poor captaincy from Bailey...period.No one in the right frame of mind would give Doherty the last over with Gayle on strike and when the experienced Brad Hogg had an over left.Doherty was lucky that Gayle managed only a single off the second ball of the over...I didn't realize that an out of form Keiron Pollard was going to slaughter him in the next few...Spirited batting from Bailey that must have done enough to silence the critics who were questioning his place in the side.Sadly,it came when the game was done and dusted.Jarrod,pls publish.I don't understand why you didn't publish my previous post.Maybe because I was critical of Bailey.Unfortunately,I say it as I see it.I though most Aussies appreciate such comments like the straight talking Ian Chappel.Btw,I love your show with Sam Collins on Two Chucks.

  • Sana on October 6, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    I didn't watch the match because of two reasons; I didnt want to see Windies being 'crushed' by the aussies coz one tend to support the underdog ; 2ndly, Pak was thrashed by Lanka and I was too not in the mood to see another favorite team getting thrashed! Bailey was right in giving Doherty the last over; it was him giving full toss balls that ruined it for him; he was good of the lot and he had a better tournament; it's not Bailey's fault; Bailey's out of resources.... It's just all about Gayle getting sensible and taking responsibility; no one had saw it coming from Gayle; then clearly it was watson who was so much under pressure and threw his wicket; Warner was unlucky to be honest! Rampaul was lucky a bit lucky in his first over!

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    There were too many passengers in the Australian side. how could bailey captain when his place in the side was questionable.

  • Marcio on October 6, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    Congratulations, AUS on a fine tournament, finishing equal third. Forget all the bashing and hatred that is littered across the site. The WI have struggled all tournament and never should have made the semis, but they have not received a fraction of the criticism that AUS have received, despite AUS dominating their first four games, including one against the WI and beeing in the tough side of the draw. It takes more than one terrible game to write a team off as hopeless (AUS), and it takes more than a single great game by the WI (5 ordinary/bad) to declare a team a success. So why do we see the absurd double standards on offer here?

  • Earl on October 6, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    I would not blame Xavier on his bowling .The blame has to be with the captain.I do not understand how one of the worlds best batsman cannot play in a T20 match,but can play and captain the test team.Clark is the best batsman in Australia in any form of the game.Hussey and Clarke can score 10 runs per over easily.They run well beteween wickets and put the bad balls away.If Sammy can captain W.I in all formats of the game then Clark is also qualified to do same.get rid of the Broads and Baileys.

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