Ashes spot not on Bailey's mind
Australia captain George Bailey has said it is "ridiculous" for him to think about an Ashes spot in the Australian summer on the basis of his one-day form in India - 318 runs in four innings. He also said he felt "frustrated" during his 98 against India in the washed-out Ranchi ODI and said Glenn Maxwell took the pressure off him in cracking 92 off 77 deliveries.
Although he's played 33 ODIs and 19 T20Is, Bailey has not made it to the Test side, and has a first-class average of 38.29 from 96 matches. His scores so far this series have been 85, 92*, 43 and 98 but he denied having one eye on an Ashes berth. "No, both eyes on the ball. That's very important. I think there's probably eight guys who have got a chance of playing in that Ashes team. It's so far away. It's just ridiculous to look at it. There's guys who will be at home playing Shield cricket, we've got Australia A games when we get back. It's a completely different format. Completely different surface. I don't think there's anyone out playing in these games thinking about that series."
Despite his superb ODI form, Bailey said he didn't feel at his best in Ranchi."I was dropped twice. I was a bit frustrated out there and found it quite difficult," Bailey said. "I think Maxy's innings was absolutely superb. We've seen his hitting before and we've seen how he can take games away late in an innings. But to come in with the team under pressure, with the ball still doing a little bit, I thought he summed it up. He still hit the boundaries and sixes but he hit them off the balls that he needed to hit. He didn't take any risks. They were smart shots in his areas. He took the pressure off me. When you've got someone scoring at the pace he was, it put the pressure right back on India. It was a great knock."
Bailey and Maxwell - who was put down twice as well, though off difficult chances - put on 153 in 22.4 overs after Australia had been reduced to 32 for 3 at one stage by Mohammed Shami. The fast bowler got the new ball to move around initially, but Bailey said Maxwell's arrival changed things. "I thought Maxwell found it conducive to strokeplay. It was still a good batting wicket. Probably what it did that the other wickets haven't done is it swung and seamed and spat a little bit, particularly at the start. From the moment Maxwell strode to the crease he made it look like a different wicket."
Maxwell hit 11 boundaries in his innings, two of them reverse-swept to the deep -cover boundary off R Ashwin. Bailey said he had no reason to ask his partner to take it easy as Maxwell had worked on the shot in the nets. "He practises that as much as I've ever seen anyone practise it. No more so than I see Shane Watson practising the straight drive. If that's a shot he's put the time into - and we've seen him put that time into it - then he has absolutely every right to play it. As long as the circumstances are right. I think the field that he had and the plan that he had was spot on. And he executed them both very well."
Australia were positive about defending 295 before the rain came down with India 27 for 0 in 4.1 overs, Bailey said. "We were confident but I'm sure India probably were as well. Given the way the series has gone... strong batting line-up, I'm sure they would've been. We just felt there was enough movement in the wicket, particularly early on. Looking at our scorecard it would suggest that new batters found it difficult at the wicket. It was hard to get started. We were hoping if we could get a couple of wickets you could make that quite challenging. And certainly the pace that Mitch (Johnson) was getting it through early on, it looked like that was going to be quite difficult to play at different stages at the game.
"Certainly 50 overs we were confident and happy to back. I think the way Duckworth-Lewis is set up, I think if it had become a 20-over game it probably would've suited India quite a bit."