The Ashes 2013-14 November 15, 2013

Bailey not pretty, but finds a way - di Venuto


Australia's batting coach, Michael di Venuto, believes criticism of George Bailey's technique misses the point that Bailey is an adaptable player who has found a way to succeed in all formats over a ten-year period. Bailey is expected to become Australia's 436th Test cricketer in the opening match of this summer's Ashes series at the Gabba, and he was chosen largely on his outstanding form in the recent one-day series in India.

As a first-class cricketer, Bailey has a solid if not spectacular record of 6011 runs at 38.28, including 14 centuries, and some critics - notably Ian Chappell - have voiced concerns about weaknesses in his game, including against the short ball. However, di Venuto has seen as much of Bailey as anyone in Australian cricket, first as a team-mate with Tasmania and then as a state assistant coach until earlier this year, and he believes Bailey has all the skills required for Test cricket, if his decision-making is sound.

"When I've seen people bowl short to him he normally plays it pretty well," di Venuto said. "He's got a pull and a hook shot, it's just picking the right balls, like it is with anything. Test cricket is all about decision-making, whether you're going to play at the ball or not, because you're there to bat for long periods of time.

"It doesn't mean you have to change your attacking ways, it's just a matter of picking the right balls to attack, so that when it comes into your areas you pick them off. If it's not there in your areas, you let them go or defend. That's as simple as George has got to keep it."

When Bailey first started as a state player in 2004-05, di Venuto was a batting veteran in the Tasmania side and the two men took the field together often over the next few seasons. Bailey's maiden first-class century came in November 2005 when di Venuto captained a Tasmanian outfit that chased down 348 on the fourth day against Western Australia at the WACA, and Bailey was the star of the pursuit with 117.

"George has always been a player who finds a way," di Venuto said. "You watch him in the nets and as he admits, he's not the prettiest looking batter at times and you think 'how can this bloke score runs?' but get him out in the middle of the contest and George finds a way. Hopefully he can adapt to Test cricket just as quickly as he has one-day international cricket, and how he did when he first started playing for Tasmania."

Although he piled up 478 runs in the recent ODI tour of India and has been the second-highest run scorer in one-day internationals since his debut - only Virat Kohli has more worldwide - he has not scored a first-class hundred in his past 18 matches. His last Sheffield Shield summer was especially disappointing, as he scored only 256 runs at 18.28, but di Venuto said it was a particularly challenging season for Bailey, who had to switch formats 18 times at domestic and international level.

"His season was very stop-start," di Venuto said. "He had no momentum going into four-day cricket. He had Big Bash, he was away playing for Australia, our wickets at the start of last year [in Hobart] weren't that great, they'd been relaid and were up and down. Sometimes batters just have poor years, for whatever reason, and it can be in just one form of the game.

"Last season for whatever reason, George didn't perform in four-day stuff. But he's played a lot of first-class cricket, he's scored 14 first-class hundreds, he's done it before. The year before he averaged 58 with three hundreds.

"He's just come off an extraordinary series in India, where he was absolutely flying. He's totally on top of his game and full of confidence. It's been well-documented what he brings to the side as far as leadership, and he's just a very sound individual. He's a good fella, George. He's a good player to have on your side and have around the group. But number one, he's in exceptional form and playing beautifully."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 18, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    I heard watson is injured. Except bailey is a middle order player, someone that bats at 6. I would prefer having 5 bowlers though. Hughes is a 100,0,0,0 player, while khawaja is a 20,30 player. So these players don't inspire any confidence. Try maddinson at no 3. so cowan, rogers, maddinson,smith,clarke,wade,faulkener,johnson,harris,siddle,lyon. maddinson is young and has so far done well. But I would at least stick with this maddinson for the whole season at least. Like the Australian way. Johnson has a test century and he bats at no 8. So batting has good depth as we also know siddle and harris can also bat. With bowling he is capable of destroying opposition. One off days u have faulkener as cover as someone that bowls accurately day by day at good pace. falukener also covers days when harris gets injured as well.

  • ShutTheGate on November 17, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    I hope that the Aussie's bowl first in Brisbane, that will give our sometimes nervous batters to settle into the match and atmosphere.

  • dummy4fb on November 17, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    Most runs scored by a batsmen so far Marcus North and in the openers slot ....I'd have North in just a thought ...Bailey is not a bad selection ...Clarke has not batted out of his skin either .. Great to see Smith making runs he has come on in leaps and bounds :D

  • Ragav999 on November 17, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    @Jose: Your comments are a breath of fresh air coming from an Indian fan. Bailey exudes confidence with his presence at the crease and creates a sense of calm among the Australian supporters who are watching him bat. If you compare the feeling with the one created by Khawaja or Hughes, there is a lot of difference.

  • dummy4fb on November 17, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    There are two reasons why I wish George Bailey to be the Captain of the current Australian team.

    (1) He will be a "unifying" force as a Captain, unlike the "disruptive" Clarke. Bailey is more capable of getting the MOST from prima donnas like Watto, Warner and the like. (Watto's performance dips the moment he plays under Clarke!. If people haven't noticed it, i would say, they are just 'blind'!)

    (2) Bailey may not be a natural selection into the playing XI. But, as a Captain he will be in the playing XI, no? He needs a few test matches to get into the groove; he is more of a Test batsman than the Short format type. And, I am afraid that he may be dumped if he fails in the first test; without enough opportunities to settle down as a probable replacement for Mike Hussey!

  • Kangroos.Proteas.Monkeys.Lions on November 17, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    His batting credentials in india where everyone was hitting centuries taking advantage of the poor bowling cannot be good enough to face the likes of Broad and Anderson. Best wishes for aussies anyway and for Bailey specially.

  • dummy4fb on November 17, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    It will be the most foolish thing, if George Bailey is not in the playing XI ... especially after Mike Hussey has retired! But, fortunately, I don't think, the Australian team management is THAT foolish!

    Frankly, I would have preferred to see him Captaining the side, which, of course, will include their best batsman. But who am I to suggest that! I am aware of that too!

    Wishing George all the best. From an Indian who appreciates "Cricket" -- the substance; more than the "flair" -- the sound and fury!

  • SirBobJones on November 17, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    I take di Venuto's point but not a huge vote of confidence in the week of the Ashes series and Bailey's debut test..."after playing with him for years and watching him in the nets I have no idea how he manages to score any runs"!?

  • Chris_P on November 16, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    Like most people here, I hope Bailey delivers, but I got my reservations as well. You got to go into your first test confident if you have come in after a stack of runs in fc cricket, but playing on roads against medium pace trundlers? And his shield match didn't inspire great confidence does it? On the plus side is his solid technique & past success, especially 2 seasons ago. One hopes he gets into this mode & quick.

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    @derpherp - agree with the hashtag mate! Hughes has been unfairly treated with selection by the current panel. He is definitely a test quality batsmen, he just needs to get used to playing in different conditions and against different opposition. I still think dropping him after 2 ashes tests in July was a mistake considering he didnt bat in the same position twice and made a great 82* to give us a shot at victory. I think Hughes would be a good number 6- the Swann argument is not as important in Australia. Anyway, hope Bailey smashes it!