Australia in South Africa 2013-14 January 20, 2014

Bailey axed, Marsh back in Test squad


'Bailey less suited to South Africa bowling attack' - Inverarity

George Bailey has been axed from Australia's Test squad after playing in all five Ashes victories this summer, with Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan included for the upcoming tour of South Africa. Australia's selectors have named a 15-man squad for the three-Test tour, which begins in early February, with Marsh, Doolan, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and James Faulkner included from outside the Ashes XI.

Bailey was the only incumbent to lose his place after his inability to make a big score in any of the five Tests against England; he finished the series with 183 runs at 26.14. A weakness outside off stump caused Bailey some problems during the Ashes and the national selector John Inverarity said that the South African conditions were unlikely to help him, where he would have had to face Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, the top two Test bowlers in the world on the ICC rankings.

"I think George's contribution to the Ashes victory was very significant," Inverarity said. "He played an integral role there. It was a wonderful Ashes series and the 11 players knitted together really well and they were a very convincing unit. But going to South Africa, we think George is less suited to there against their attack and we've left him out and bolstered the batting with Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh.

"[Doolan] has been on the radar for quite some time. We had him on standby in the fifth Test in Sydney and he's now come into the squad of 15. Those of us who have seen us play … he looks a very good player - good technique, time, he plays pace bowling well - so we're hoping that he'll really flourish in this environment."

Doolan, 28, is the only uncapped player in the squad and will be battling with Marsh for a place in the top six for the opening Test in Cenutrion. Doolan had a breakout Sheffield Shield season last summer but this year has managed 391 runs at 39.10. However, his Shield form has been superior to that of Marsh, who this season sits 34th on the Shield run tally with 248 runs at 31.00, including only one fifty-plus score - it was a century - from his nine innings.

Ten days ago, Marsh described his Shield form as "really inconsistent this year" and declared that there were "a lot of guys ahead of me" in the Test queue, but the selectors seem to have disagreed. Marsh has scored half-centuries in the first two ODIs against England, although Inverarity said the squad was picked before Sunday's game, and he does have South African Test experience, having played there on the 2011-12 tour.

"He's in a good space at the moment, Shaun," Inverarity said. "He's playing well. We all know that when Shaun plays at his best, he's a very good player. It seems to us that he's in that space at the moment ... That first Test match that he played in Cape Town, when Australia were eventually bowled out for a very small total. In the first innings, Michael Clarke made a century and Shaun made 44 and played exceptionally well against that attack."

Inverarity said Marsh, Doolan, Bailey and Phillip Hughes were the four contenders for two batting spots. Hughes can count himself unlucky to have missed out given that in the current Shield summer he has scored three centuries, including one double-hundred, and in his five Test appearances in South Africa he has averaged 53.00, including a score of 88 in the last Test Australia played there on the 2011-12 trip.

Hughes was dropped from the Test side after the defeat at Lord's in July, despite the fact he had made an impressively mature 81 not out in the first Test at Trent Bridge when Ashton Agar nearly scored a hundred on debut. Since his axing, Hughes has made 671 first-class runs at the average of 61.00 from 11 innings, including a double-century and two other tons this Sheffield Shield season.

Marsh, by comparison, has scored most of his runs in the shorter formats. Since he was dropped from the Test side in January 2012, he has made 675 first-class runs at 25.00.

The make-up of the attack was less tricky for the selectors, with Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon all the natural choices after their success in the home Ashes campaign. The addition of Faulkner, the perennial 12th man during that series, was no surprise either, which left them choosing two backup fast men from Bird, Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Inverarity said it was a close call but the selectors believed Pattinson could be a valuable member of the squad if he is able to continue making good progress on his return from a back injury. Pattinson made his return to the national side during Sunday's one-day win over England at the SCG.

"He's been making very good progress during the last six weeks," Inverarity said. "Last night I thought he showed some very good signs and we've still got three or four weeks to go. He's on the upward curve and at his best he's a very good bowler."

Test squad Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2014, 16:03 GMT

    The bold declarations by Clarke and aggressive Runrate of above 4.0 average in most innings with a lethal bowling combination tilts the series in favour of Aus. The only area where SA scores over Aus is in the Top 5 batsmen spot. Amla, DeVilliers & Duplessis have good Test match temperament and can bat for long on Day5 to save the Test, whereas Warner, Watson & Marsh are T20 specialists who play loose shots and it's left upto Haddin, Smith & Johnson to resurrect the Aussies. Moreover a good series on the card, provided Rain doesn't play a part.

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2014, 15:51 GMT

    The upcoming Aus tour of SA will be a cracker.A Test series of closely matched teams eager to be at Top spot.SA definitely have the Home advantage suited to their Pace attack. But you cannot judge a series by recent records. Agreed, Aus had a poor run in the early part of 2013 with losses in England and India. When Aussies are on a role, they mean business.Removing 100 wickets of the opposition in a 5-0 whitewash is by no means"A Fluke". I'm sure Darren Lehmann and his men will apply the same strategy against SA. Pace attack of both sides is equally balanced but Aus have more versatility with Nathan Lyon. Johnson's bouncers are more intimidating to a well set batsman than that of Morkel and Harris and Siddle compliment him well with variations. Also Pattinson can fill the slot in case any 1 gets injured whereas SA don't have a good backup for Steyn-Philander-Morkel.One side goes on an All out attack, the other is satisfied in a draw as seen in J'burg against India.

  • Nix on January 22, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    SA vs AUS pace attack. Johnson Matches: 56 SR: 51.5 Siddle Matches: 51 SR: 58.6 and Harris Matches: 21 SR: 46. Steyn Matches: 69 SR: 42 Morkel Matches: 53 SR: 56.5 and Philander Matches: 20 SR: 39.6.

    Not only individually do the SA bowlers beat their Aus counterparts but also as a team:

    Aus pace trio in 128 games take wickets at a strike rate of 52.03 / SA pace trio in 142 games take wickets at a strike rate of 46.03 So what now... for me its looks more even that as mcdermot has said that Aus has a better attack.

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    Hughes must feel disappointed as he has outscored Marsh & Doolan over the past 12 months. He also has form against South Africa. Unless Bird really has come back a yard or two quicker, Coulter-Nile is entitled to feel hard done by. Otherwise the squad picks itself. This will be a difficult away series against a team who really do have the best bowling line-up in the world. Kallis is a big loss but if Australia continues to be 5 for bugger all against South Africa the tail won't wag as consistently against Steyn & Co. I like the look of our pacemen though, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the Proteas' batting line-up. One thing you can be sure of though - Clarke won't be advising Steyn about the likelihood of his arm being broken!

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    Hmmmm.... I think now Watto can be dropped to 6.

    -Rogers -Warner -Marsh -Clarke -Smith -Watson -Haddin -Johnson -Harris -Siddle -Lyon

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    The difference in this series might be the the quality of the side's 2 spinners. As everything seems an even match up - ignoring South Africa's slightly better batting lineup - but the loss of Kallis might be felt in the middle order.

  • Adrian on January 22, 2014, 1:41 GMT

    I think the important question is: Why does Inverarity get a stand named after himself and Bryce McGain doesn't? Both contributed equally to test cricket.

  • richard on January 21, 2014, 23:56 GMT

    I for one have not been calling for Marshes return, His batting has looked solid for the first couple of ODI, but he has the same problem as Watson... they find the fielders far to often especially early in their innings, the other night Marsh was hitting them out of the middle straight to a fielder, IMO he should have scored a ton, they end up getting out with around 30 to 70 runs on the board but miss out on 20 to 30 runs every time.

  • Stephen on January 21, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    No real mention over the Painson selection here, how was he selected over Coulter-Nile? He has no form for the last year and looked pretty toothless in his last couple of matches. Surely he should have to demonstrate form for an extended period first.

  • Dru on January 21, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Surprised with Marsh selection but he is experienced and needs to be tested again after all he made a hundred on debut. Also surprised that Kuwaja was not part of the equation. I would have gone for Coulter-Nile over Bird and Faulkner is a good prospect, especially if Watto gets injured. Glad to see Pattinson back in the team and I even saw Cummins for the scortches the other day. Bailey wasnt a sound selection (bashing runs on flat tracks in Indis was never a basis for an Ashes game) and having been given the opportunity he didnt show much. Aus needs to groom another Hussey - yes long shot but someone needs to be groomed in to the position and another 30+ player is not the way forward. Its possible for Marsh or Doolan to bat in the all important #3 spot and Watto bat in Baileys spot.