The Ashes 2013-14 November 12, 2013

Bailey named in Test squad


Brettig: 'Lyon selection sign of continuity'

George Bailey is set to become Australia's 436th Test cricketer after beating his fellow Tasmanian Alex Doolan for the final batting place in the squad for the first Ashes Test at the Gabba. Bailey has been included in Australia's 12-man squad despite his disappointing first-class form over the past year, as the selectors instead backed his strong efforts in one-day internationals, including as captain on last month's tour of India.

The allrounder James Faulkner has also been included as expected, as has the fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who is likely to share the pace duties with Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, while Nathan Lyon retained his position as the lead spinner. Shane Watson has been chosen despite suffering a hamstring injury at the end of the Indian tour and the selectors are hopeful he will be able to bowl, which gives them a range of options regarding the balance of the team.

Although batting the vice-captain Brad Haddin at No.6 and Faulkner at 7 would be a possibility, as in the final Test at The Oval this year, the likely scenario is that Bailey will fill the No.6 position on debut at the Gabba. During a first-class career that has spanned ten seasons, Bailey, 31, has scored 6011 runs at 38.28, including 14 centuries, but his lack of red-ball form last season initially seemed to have hurt his chances of a Test call-up.

For Tasmania last year, Bailey scored only 256 Sheffield Shield runs at 18.28 and he later conceded that he had struggled significantly with the constant demands of changing formats. However, the national selector John Inverarity noted Bailey's form the previous summer, when he had made 697 Shield runs at 58.08, and it also helped that since Bailey's ODI debut in March last year only India's Virat Kohli has scored more ODI runs than his 1539 at 54.96.

"It was certainly discussed at great length last night," Inverarity said of the decision between Bailey and Doolan. "Alex Doolan is a very highly-regarded player in our eyes ... George Bailey has been in fantastic form with the bat. His confidence is riding high. His performance in international one-day cricket has been quite extraordinary and he's very deserving of his opportunity."

Australia's T20 international captain since his debut in the format in February last year, Bailey has impressed the selectors in the shorter formats not only with his run-scoring but also his calm, intelligent leadership. Although there was no place for Doolan in this squad, he appears the batsman most likely to be included if another opportunity comes up during the Ashes, after his impressive 2012-13 and strong start to this summer.

Apart from the inclusion of Bailey in the 12, the only other change to the side that played at The Oval was the absence of the injured Mitchell Starc, who has been replaced by his fellow left-armer Johnson. At 32, Johnson is set to embark on his third Ashes series and the selectors hope he can make the England batsmen jump, as he did during the ODIs that followed this year's Ashes, while also demonstrating improved control.

"I think he's bowling a lot more consistent at the moment," the captain Michael Clarke said. "His pace is certainly high, which is a great start. But it doesn't matter how fast you bowl, if you don't know where they're going it's always easy to face as a batsman. I think Mitch has that control. He showed that in the one-day format. I said a couple of days ago if Mitch was selected in this squad, it wouldn't surprise me if in a couple of months' time you see Mitch being Man of the Series."

Whether Johnson is one of four or five bowlers remains to be seen, but the Australians are hopeful Watson will be able to contribute some overs despite struggling with a hamstring problem he picked up on the ODI tour of India. Watson is expected to bat at No.3, after finishing the Ashes in England with a century at first drop at The Oval, and Inverarity is confident that will not be all he can do for the team.

"We're hoping that he'll be able to bowl," Inverarity said. "We're not sure the extent to which he'll be able to bowl. He's progressing very well and he'll certainly be fit to play. We believe he's likely to be able to bowl. But it's nine days to go, so we can't give a definitive answer on that."

Watson's fitness to bowl could determine whether there is a place for the allrounder Faulkner, who performed well on debut at The Oval and also made his maiden ODI century in India earlier this month. Inverarity said Faulkner was a player the selectors hoped could offer plenty to the Test team in the future.

"He has been a cricketer we've had our eye on for a long time," he said. "He impresses us with his batting and with his bowling and with his attitude, and his uncanny ability to have an impact on almost every game he plays. If you give him the ball, he always seems to be able to conjure up a wicket, when he goes out to bat he has the knack of forming a partnership ... we have high hopes for him."

Squad Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin (wk, vice-capt), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Graham on November 14, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Karnawata33; I'm thinking your actually trying to be serious. Harris averaged 19 per wicket in the Ashes and right now him Steyn and Anderson are the best 3 quicks going around. In a test match you would expexct to bowl around 120 overs in the first innings and you want to bank on a part timer who hasn't bowled aan over in the last 3 shield games to bowl 25 overs a. And you think what I wrote was outrageous. Let me say this I'm glad your not a test selector and I'm very confident the current selectors have the common sense to pick Lyon and he will definetelt be playing this test.

  • rob on November 14, 2013, 0:08 GMT

    @ Beertjie: I agree re the 12th man thing. Brisbane is in for a hammering weather wise according to most reports. A steamy, sticky Brisbane atmosphere on a fair but lively enough deck sounds like a recipe for swing and seam to me. There's probably heaps of others but the only spinner I can remember who consistently did well there was Warne. .. I recall reading an article where Shane himself said something about liking the bounce he got at the Gabba. Warne was a leggie though. They nearly always get more bounce than the finger twirling blokes. I can't remember too many offies bowling the house down there though. .. Faulkner in, Lyon to carry the drinks for me as well.

  • Blessing on November 13, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    The decline in strength of Aus cricket is really shocking, 10 years back I'd never thought i would live to witness such a weak Aus test team with mediocre fringe players like they have now!!!

  • Saransh on November 13, 2013, 21:31 GMT

    @Shaggy076: Ryan Harris, One of the TOP THREE BOWLERS IN THE WORLD. Sure as hell. So who are the other two? Lyon and Doherty, I presume. If Ravindra Jadeja can be a Joint No.1 ODI bowler, why not Harris.

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I can see you're not. No point debating with you if you can come up with such an absurd statement.

    Secondly, I highly doubt Australia are planning on bowling 150 overs to the English. If in the worst case scenario, they do concede "500 runs" at the Gabba, which offers pacemen a nice tinge of grass; Smith, Clarke, Watson and Warner, all can chip in with a few.

    Also, STEVEN SMITH is not a bad leggie, he can bowl pretty well. So if I have to distribute 150 overs amongst the bowlers, I am pretty sure I can rely on Smith to chip in with a decent 20-25.

  • Rajkumar on November 13, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @Yorkshirepudding--Thanks for noting and responding to my comments.But again there is a slight communication gap for which i amentirely responsible!!! .I meant the inability of Indian bowlers to generate reverse swing or even conventional swing for that matter(except Bhuvi/Shami but its too early) as well in the earlier post when i wrote "red ball which moves both ways"!!

  • Mashuq on November 13, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    Share your sentiments @Balaji Santhanakrishnan (November 13, 2013, 7.04 GMT). If the weather forecast for rain comes true and hampers preparation, it might just lead to a green top. In that case Lyon should be 12th man. Man for man on current form and preparation or lack thereof I'd say Oz just about has the edge in such conditions. Taking Oz's 7-11 against England's gives Oz the edge. Taking England's top 6 (underdone KP v underdone Watto) I'd give England the edge. Overall a definite but not big edge in batting for England. Taking the bowlers Oz has a definite but not big edge over England. Harris v Anderson equality; Siddle v Broad equality; third seamer vMJ, take MJ. Swann v Faulkner on a green top I'd have to say Faulkner. Root v Smith equality, KP v Pup might be interesting if the latter bowls to the former! As I wrote before, bring it on and we'll see what the new guys (Carberry, Bailey) are made of. Strike quick Oz - England will come back, but there's still the WACA to come!

  • Jason on November 13, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    @latecut_04, the white ball moves both ways, the difference is that he wont have faced a great deal of reverse with the white ball in 50 over cricket. The other issue is concentration as you look to occupy the crease more than score quickly.

    Also in ODI cricket you're relatively safe if you hang the bat outside off (Morgans main Problem) in the later stages as a moderate/thick edge will bypass the keeper 9/10 times and theres unlikely to be a slipso you can often pick up 2,3, or 4 depending on where the thirdman sweeper is.

    I've not seen enough of Bailey to form an opinion though.

  • Richard on November 13, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    In addition, Chad Sayers (RHB) has a first class average of 20 and Mitchell Johnson (LHB) has a FC & Test average of 30. I say again, what would England and G Swann prefer to play against?

    Peter Siddle has a test average of 29, Steve O'Keefe has a first class average of 26. Steve O'Keefe is twice the batsman Siddle is. Again, Chad Sayers has a FC average of 20.33. To make the observation "Australian selection is baffling" is understating the facts. They are amateurs. There is no process, no system, no science, no logic. Nothing.

    The 'Gabba Test team should be: Rogers, Watson, Clarke, Smith, [Hodge-Lynn-Doolan- Bailey], Warner, O'Keefe, Hartley, Harris, Sayers, [Bird-Pattinson-Cummins-Gannon].

  • Rajkumar on November 13, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding--I had commented on Cricinfo before that 0-3 scorline of just concluded Ashes did not reveal the true picture.Also I agree with your assessment of both Eng and Aus.But my point was Bailey would face an entirely different set of bowlers bowling 'red' ball which moves both ways and committed to test cricket..atleast pretend to be commited(not that they are world class or unbeatable..)

  • Jason on November 13, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    @latecut_04, actually SA were lucky to get a draw in at least one test which aus should have won had there not been sever weather interuptions.

    Aus cricket isnt in as bad shape as people like to make out, and English cricket is not in that good a shape either. If the weather hadnt interupted at OT then aus would probably have won but it wasnt certain. The oval could have gone either way.