No motivation for bowlers - Bailey
George Bailey, the Australia captain, wonders what motivates bowlers on the batting-friendly pitches of India but feels that also renders a tour of the country daunting for sides like his. Australia racked up 359 in the second ODI in Jaipur, only to watch India run it down in 43.3 overs for the loss of one wicket, making it the second-highest successful chase ever.
"The wickets we have played on have been very good batting wickets. It was very tough for the bowlers. It's hard to know what motivates bowlers on these wickets," Bailey said ahead of the third ODI in Mohali. "I would like to see a little bit more help for the bowlers if they bend their backs, and a little bit for the spinners.
"But that's how it is around the world, different conditions. That's how it is everywhere. But that's the beauty of the game around the world. That's what makes touring India such a challenge. That's what makes touring Australia such a challenge for India. Playing at Bellerive Oval compared to the WACA is so different. It would be boring if every wicket was the same. It would be boring if every wicket was flat. It would be boring if every wicket helped pacers or spinners."
Bailey felt the Mohali pitch would not be as flat as the Jaipur one, and said Australia would not mind using the short ball again if the conditions helped them. "It's a matter of summing up the conditions. If the wicket here has some pace and bounce and the boundaries being slightly longer around the squares, it could be something we will explore. But all players are good if they know what to expect, so it's a matter of not getting too predictable."
Bailey backed his bowlers, saying one bad game did not warrant changes, but admitted Australia were considering bringing in Nathan Coulter-Nile. "Yeah, we'll think about Nathan. A little bit of extra pace, a little bit of shape with the new ball… outstanding fielder, good striker of the ball near the end. So he is in the all-rounder category… I think all three guys we have on stand-by should be ready. The beauty of those guys is how ready they are to play whatever their roles might be."
The introduction of a new ball at each end in ODIs has largely taken away reverse swing as a weapon for bowlers towards the end of an innings. Bailey, however, said he liked the ruling, saying it had made things harder for batsmen at the start. "I enjoy it actually. When it first came out, I thought scores would go through the roof. What we have seen is that bowlers have adapted pretty well. England's a good example of how we had to work pretty hard to get through the first 10-15 overs without losing too many wickets. Then if you can reach the back-end, the ball tends to be a bit harder for the batsmen to cash in."
Australia have been getting through the new balls without damage so far on the tour, with Aaron Finch and Phillip Hughes putting on strong opening partnerships in both ODIs. Bailey said that had allowed the middle order to take on the India spinners with more confidence, but denied Australia had a plan to particularly attack the lead spinner R Ashwin, who's gone for 105 in 18 overs. "I don't think we targeted him specifically.
"The guys, especially the right-handers, were comfortable facing him. It wasn't a strategy to go after him. There wasn't much turn on the wicket. But it wasn't like targeting one specific bowler. The key for us really is that we have had good opening partnerships that have given us a good platform. Not losing early wickets has helped the middle order so we have been able to play with a little bit of freedom."
Which is why Bailey also ruled out a return for Watson to the top of the order, saying his presence at No. 3 was important to tackle the spinners. "At the moment it's working very well for us and I don't think there's any need to change it. His versatility there in terms of how well he plays spin… we saw that the other day when he walked in and faced the spinners, he put them on the back foot. It's really important for us if he can bat at No. 3 and get into the middle order a bit."
The disciplinary issues that had plagued Watson and Australia's Test tour of India earlier this year were done and buried, Bailey insisted. "I think he is [over it]. It's a long way in the past. It's been so many months now and he has been at home. It really is a long time back. I have been very impressed by his energy in training."