The Ashes 2013-14 October 29, 2013

Bailey firms as Ashes inclusion


George Bailey appears to have hurdled the dual obstacles of poor recent Sheffield Shield returns and an indifferent record at the Gabba to take a place in Australia's Ashes top six, after a glowing assessment of his qualities by the national selector John Inverarity.

There appears to be little need for Bailey to rush home from the current ODI tour of India either, as Inverarity said the coming rounds would not overly distract the selectors from a Test squad they appear largely settled on.

The composure, poise and leadership demonstrated by Bailey across his limited-overs career to date, most recently on the subcontinent where he has shepherded an understrength touring team to a 2-1 series lead with two matches remaining, is serving him increasingly well to cover the holes in his domestic CV.

Chief among those is a tally of 256 Shield runs at 18.28 in 2012-13, the largest single factor in his omission from the Ashes tour earlier this year. He improved marginally while playing for Hampshire in England, tallying 263 at 37.57 from five appearances.

Of similarly modest dimensions is Bailey's record in first-class cricket at the Gabba, where eight matches have reaped only 279 runs at 21.46 and a highest score of 76. This statistic is mitigated a little by the knowledge that Brisbane's Test strip is habitually the ground's best and most equable surface of the season, in contrast to the grassy Shield decks commonly unveiled for southern visitors.

Nonetheless, Inverarity acknowledged that, should it come to pass, Bailey's selection would be based upon his international runs, character and leadership attributes, rather than the compelling domestic case he has never quite managed to make.

"His performance in ODI cricket has been outstanding," Inverarity said. "Since he started 18 months ago he's been our best-performed one-day player in terms of average, aggregate runs, strike-rate. He's just been outstanding, so it's a thrill to see him coming on and playing so well.

"When we look at a player we look at four things: their batting, their bowling, their fielding, and their character or what else they bring to the team. George certainly brings a great deal in that character category to the team. He's a very mature, calm young man. I think you'll have seen [that] in his batting performances. Difficult situations bring out the best in him."

Bailey and Steve Smith were the two notable absentees from the Australia A squad compiled to face the tourists in Hobart from November 6. Smith is a certainty to play at the Gabba, and each would have been a capable captain, but Inverarity said that in Bailey's case, there was not much more the selectors needed to learn about him.

"The general feeling is we thought George has gone past that," he said. "That's more development, and he's firmly entrenched as an Australian player. All performances are important, but we're not going to select the Ashes team just on the performances of that round of Shield and [the] Australia A game. Our minds are well made up before that.

"We're very well advanced on our planning. Almost all the places we know who is going to be in the Test team. It's probably the last one or two places [that are not yet settled], that's all. As long as we're not plagued by further injuries, we're pretty settled with where we're at. I think we're more settled and at a better place now than we were when we went away for the Ashes in England."

Another man not named in the Australia A team was David Warner, who has allayed any fear among the selectors about his batting form and mindset by coshing a trio of centuries for New South Wales in the domestic limited-overs competition. Inverarity reckoned that the time spent settling at home, rather than venturing once more to India, had aided Warner's focus.

"We were thrilled to bits with three of his last four innings, where he scored very good hundreds," Inverarity said of Warner. "I think David's learned a lot during the past five or six months. His form during the Ryobi was outstanding and we're looking forward to him taking that forward. It's been very good for David to be settled in his home bed for some months. He's had a real chance to settle down and I think it's been in his interests to do so."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ragavendran on November 2, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    @Meety: Great to see you back writing your opinions. I agree with the fact that Bailey has not been consistent enough in his long first class career compared to the likes of Brad Hodge or David Hussey who were not given chances in Test cricket. Going by the same logic, we should question why Ed Cowan was picked in Tests with a mediocre first class record and in midst of a temporary purple patch. Picking Bailey is not the worst selection as the selectors have picked guys like Maxwell, C White, Rob Quiney, Hastings, M North who were not by any means extraordinarily consistent. Bailey seems to be in a separate level from the rest of the guys in the last 18 months. He looks great and exudes confidence and joy. He is a better bet than Hughes/Khawaja who have fantastic stats but have not been able to grab their opportunities. Let us also not forget that Bailey has played in difficult tracks in his home ground in Shield games which has played a part in his lower average.

  • Andrew on November 1, 2013, 4:19 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter on (October 29, 2013, 12:35 GMT) - you said "...we have blooded young hopefuls in ODIs first before giving them a shot at the tests..." - key word was YOUNG. Bailey has been brilliant in ODIs, however during his time in the ODIs his Shield form has been poor & his County stint fairly average & he is not young - he is 31. If say Mitch Marsh had been doing what Bailey has - I would agree with you, give the YOUNG bloke a go, & I do agree that ODIs can be a good blooding ground. If Bailey gets selected - I will wish him well, my issue is that for 96 FC games & 10yrs - he has not done enuff to be a Test cricketer. On top of that - his Shield performances at the Gabba are really terrible - one decent innings in nearly 10yrs - does not bode well.

  • Andrew on November 1, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game on (October 30, 2013, 4:26 GMT) - nice reinvention of the facts. The Gabba was grassy, but due to the unseasonally cool weather that had been in SE QLD for that summer & the previous two, the pitch was slow & lacked some of its usual bounce. "...SA played on a highway..." - yet one injury aside, SA was in grave danger of losing the match if a day hadn't been lost to rain. That "highway" would of been a result pitch!

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2013, 0:31 GMT

    I remember Pak fans were ridiculing Misbah so badly. But now there are too few of them

    Bailey is a matured player and I have a very strong feeling he will justify his postion in the team. It's not like Australia is spewing with batting talent.he is captain material.clarke has crumbling back and watto doesn't seem to be matured for captaincy. So why not Bailey.

  • Graham on October 30, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    I'm in two minds about this decision, firstly I have always been of the opinion that test cricketers must be selected via Sheffield shield form and on this scale Bailey fails. However, his one-day form not just in India, England as well has been very impressive and appears to be a level headed bloke that can bring his A game to test cricket. If we look back on the shield season last year as we don't have any sample size this year it really was only Hughes that has done enough to get picked. For mine it should be Hughes playing as only two tests ok he batted superbly at number 6 before finding himself at #3 for one test and dropped. Bailey seems a risky move however, one that may work out.

  • Alex on October 30, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    I really think he is a flat track specialist. Good player of spin and destroying India in india. Will he bat against tall english bowler. I doubt he has the skills. But if he has bit of luck he can cement his place because he seems more mature than other younger players.

  • sanjeewa on October 30, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    Performance on those bowlers graveyards in India and against the current rubbish bowling attack of India in this ongoing ODI series shouldn't be the criteria of selecting a player for a Ashes series in Australia.Specially,with that unbelievably below par record in the recent Sheffield Shield selectors may be quite brave to pick him for this Aus summer Ashes...By the way he seems like a wonderful man with temperament.

  • Neil on October 30, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Bailey has batted beautifully in yellow clothes for a long time. He looks so assured strolling to the wicket, taking his guard and looking around himself to see 4 on the boundary, 5 saving one in the circle. Eoin Morgan has always looked the same. White clothes, 3 slips, gully, short leg ..... not so self assured. The stats for both of them spell trouble in the test arena. He has a great temperament but his technique will be severely tested. I'm looking forward to taking my seat at the Gabba.

  • Mashuq on October 30, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter on (October 29, 2013, 12:35 GMT) - your judgments are much too quick. Why should Bailey's failing in the 1st test lose him his spot? One can't drop someone you think is a genuine candidate that quickly. Likewise giving someone like Usman Khawaja the boot before he can try to cement his place is simply not on. Look at the chances Hughes has got and he's still not cemented his place. But he too should get another shot - not sure when or at whose expense. Agree @HatsforBats on (October 29, 2013, 13:10 GMT), but unless I truly believe that there'll be 7 batsmen in the squad and he'll be one of them. If he gets a go, I hope he takes it, but don't keep flogging a dead horse for the sake of his possible captaincy role. There's an Ashes to be won! Agree @Chris_P on (October 29, 2013, 13:23 GMT) about Shield v Ryobi/ODI also with@ ian2208 on (October 29, 2013, 13:41 GMT).

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    I agree with popcorn - Hughes has been an abject failure at Test level - 40 failures in 49 innings. Get rid of him for good and give some of our young cricketers with talent a bit of a go.