The Ashes 2013-14 November 15, 2013

Bailey not pretty, but finds a way - di Venuto

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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

  • izzidole on November 15, 2013, 21:13 GMT

    George Bailey may not have the technique for test cricket but I am sure he will somehow deliver the goods given the opportunity to do so as in the limited overs of the game. He is a treat to watch when he gets going and also has the ability to stick around when wickets keep falling at the other end as evidenced in limited over cricket. He may have to curb some of his strokeplay to suit the longer version of the game.His pull shots and his attacking stroke play to and over the boundary is a treat to watch. He is calm and collected and goes about his business in a very professional way and his only weakness is his very friendly smile and the lack of the killer instinct to instil any fear into the opposition. He could be the right choice for the number 6 position to attack the bowlers as in limited over cricket.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • JustIPL 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.

  • 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.

  • izzidole on November 15, 2013, 21:13 GMT

    George Bailey may not have the technique for test cricket but I am sure he will somehow deliver the goods given the opportunity to do so as in the limited overs of the game. He is a treat to watch when he gets going and also has the ability to stick around when wickets keep falling at the other end as evidenced in limited over cricket. He may have to curb some of his strokeplay to suit the longer version of the game.His pull shots and his attacking stroke play to and over the boundary is a treat to watch. He is calm and collected and goes about his business in a very professional way and his only weakness is his very friendly smile and the lack of the killer instinct to instil any fear into the opposition. He could be the right choice for the number 6 position to attack the bowlers as in limited over cricket.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • JustIPL 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • derpherp on November 16, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Well I hope he finds a way soon, he hasn't made any runs so far in the Shield. I'm not sold on him in tests #BRINGBACKPHILHUGHESOREVENMARCUSNORTH

  • Alexk400 on November 16, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Using bailey is waste of time. They should blood young batsman..not from current lot. Someone no one heard off. Surprise England. :)

  • Cricket_Man on November 16, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    Bailey is a positive bloke who can inject confidence to the entire Aussie side. The best thing about him is that he is always looking to score runs but in a controlled way. I think he would be Australia's main weapon to tackle Swann. I am happy that he got this chance ahead of Finch and Doolan. I have a feeling he will be Australia's leading run scorer in this Ashes series. Good luck Bailey and Australia!!

  • popcorn on November 16, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    George Bailey is dependable. And the Number 6 Spot requires a dependable batsman. Besides, he has his head on his shoulders, is a good Leader, brings seniority, maturity and good advice to the Dressing Room, besides being an Excellent Team Player.

  • pat_one_back on November 16, 2013, 1:49 GMT

    Some here are just being ridiculous calling out Bailey's age, how old was Mike Hussey on debut, is Jimmy Andersen over the hill at 31...? Bailey has answered every question put to him, he's overcome major criticism on appointment as T20 Captain, he's stolen the show in ODI definitely has the experience and tenacity to adapt one more time given a few Tests to settle. None of his peers would be begrudge him this. It sends a great message to the underachieving younger crop to keep working on their games knowing there's plenty of time for a test career once you hit the top of your game. More important than Bailey's recent ODI runs is how he lead a team that shook the World No 1 at home on their own terms. Teams need senior leaders, with Rogers, Clarke, Hadds, Bailey, Harris and Boof around the more fragile have a better chance to shine (Watson, Warner, Johnson)

  • dunger.bob on November 15, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    I wonder how George is feeling right now. I can't imagine what it's like to have that sort of pressure on your shoulders. Scary.

    I honestly believe that what separates the men from the boys at Test level is the mental side of the game. If you're not tough enough between the ears to forget everything that's gone on before and focus your entire world onto the next ball, then you're in a lot of trouble. At least George seems to have that in him, so he's a chance of making some runs I'd say.

    I wonder how much leeway they'll give him. What if he has a double failure in Brisbane? Do they axe him after 1 match? .. All I can say is hope not. That's what they've been doing for a while now and the players know it. .. Kittens on a hot tin roof anyone.

  • Wayne_Larkins_Barnet on November 15, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    @ravi_hari, that is an excellent point you make about the number 6 needing to be versatile depending on who that bat with. Really good point, Bailey can do that job I think.

  • Beertjie on November 15, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Good talking up of Bailey and holding thumbs for the guy. However failing is failing and should that happen they shouldn't stick with him because he MIGHT eventually come good. Others didn't have that luxury, nor should George.

  • ravi_hari on November 15, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Aussies are groping in the dark to replace Hussey. Here is one man who can come close to achieving it provided he converts ODi form into tests. The positive about Bailey is the way he has gathered runs in India. He did not go for the onslaught like Finch from word go. He paced each of his innings well and at the end saw that his strike rate is well above 100. Secondly he has shown he has the capability to block and blast at the same time. This is mostly required when you will bat at No.6 in tests. If you have a recognised batsman at the other end block and gather runs. If you are running out of partners you need to try and score as many on your own. Having led the side in ODIs I feel Bailey will feel the responsibility more than anyone else and will ensure that he will not throw away his wicket. What Aussies require most is someone who can bat long sessions. If Smith or Clarke pair up with Bailey, I think it would ensure a big score for them. If you have it in you, show it George.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on November 15, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    @millsy24, if you are right those responsible within CA should not be allowed within 100km of anywhere where the future of Aus cricket is discussed or decided. Sutherland may have the golden touch when it comes to sponsorship but it seems to turn lethal when it comes to the cricket.

  • millsy24 on November 15, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    WheresTheEmpire, I think your last sentence is the perfect answer really. Nothing else needs to be said.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on November 15, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    Some interesting comments here. Chanderpaul, Katich and many others are proof that a classical technique is not a requirement for success in Test cricket. As in evolution, international cricket (and especially Test cricket) it is all about adapt or die. The common trait of champions (Sachin, Ricky, Hussey) is they have internal drive to keep on improving and mastering their trade.

    Why is it that the current batch of Aus batsmen take so long to grasp these basics? Do cultural changes and over-parenting mean that it takes until age 30 to learn what previously took until 20? Or have cricket pathways, over-coaching and turning district and state cricket into a finishing schools destroyed what used to be natural?

  • xtrafalgarx on November 15, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    @Kensohatter: If he does well, mate he could play for 5/6 years. He could play 50/60 test matches...Don't forget that Hussey/Ponting retired at 37/38 and that' the age Haddin and co hope to call it quits.

  • millsy24 on November 15, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    So 6000 runs and 14 centuries in 10 years of first class cricket and 31 years old. Not bad I suppose. Then you have Hughes who has over 8000 runs and today brought up his 23rd 1st class century. He is 24 years old. Makes you wonder what CA and their supposed support staff are doing to help him be the best he can be. Obviously nothing. He is way better than any of the other young batsmen we have and yet can't cope mentally with international cricket. Why don't they help him?

  • kensohatter on November 15, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    I really hope im wrong about Bailey but I just dont think that ODI or 20/20 form converts to test match success. The other problem is that he is 31 so hes hardly a long term prospect. It just seems like a desperate move from a team desperate for test options. If you follow cricket Australias guide to selection then surely Finch is close given his 20/20 and ODI form...

  • kensohatter on November 15, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    I really hope im wrong about Bailey but I just dont think that ODI or 20/20 form converts to test match success. The other problem is that he is 31 so hes hardly a long term prospect. It just seems like a desperate move from a team desperate for test options. If you follow cricket Australias guide to selection then surely Finch is close given his 20/20 and ODI form...

  • millsy24 on November 15, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    So 6000 runs and 14 centuries in 10 years of first class cricket and 31 years old. Not bad I suppose. Then you have Hughes who has over 8000 runs and today brought up his 23rd 1st class century. He is 24 years old. Makes you wonder what CA and their supposed support staff are doing to help him be the best he can be. Obviously nothing. He is way better than any of the other young batsmen we have and yet can't cope mentally with international cricket. Why don't they help him?

  • xtrafalgarx on November 15, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    @Kensohatter: If he does well, mate he could play for 5/6 years. He could play 50/60 test matches...Don't forget that Hussey/Ponting retired at 37/38 and that' the age Haddin and co hope to call it quits.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on November 15, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    Some interesting comments here. Chanderpaul, Katich and many others are proof that a classical technique is not a requirement for success in Test cricket. As in evolution, international cricket (and especially Test cricket) it is all about adapt or die. The common trait of champions (Sachin, Ricky, Hussey) is they have internal drive to keep on improving and mastering their trade.

    Why is it that the current batch of Aus batsmen take so long to grasp these basics? Do cultural changes and over-parenting mean that it takes until age 30 to learn what previously took until 20? Or have cricket pathways, over-coaching and turning district and state cricket into a finishing schools destroyed what used to be natural?

  • millsy24 on November 15, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    WheresTheEmpire, I think your last sentence is the perfect answer really. Nothing else needs to be said.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on November 15, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    @millsy24, if you are right those responsible within CA should not be allowed within 100km of anywhere where the future of Aus cricket is discussed or decided. Sutherland may have the golden touch when it comes to sponsorship but it seems to turn lethal when it comes to the cricket.

  • ravi_hari on November 15, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Aussies are groping in the dark to replace Hussey. Here is one man who can come close to achieving it provided he converts ODi form into tests. The positive about Bailey is the way he has gathered runs in India. He did not go for the onslaught like Finch from word go. He paced each of his innings well and at the end saw that his strike rate is well above 100. Secondly he has shown he has the capability to block and blast at the same time. This is mostly required when you will bat at No.6 in tests. If you have a recognised batsman at the other end block and gather runs. If you are running out of partners you need to try and score as many on your own. Having led the side in ODIs I feel Bailey will feel the responsibility more than anyone else and will ensure that he will not throw away his wicket. What Aussies require most is someone who can bat long sessions. If Smith or Clarke pair up with Bailey, I think it would ensure a big score for them. If you have it in you, show it George.

  • Beertjie on November 15, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Good talking up of Bailey and holding thumbs for the guy. However failing is failing and should that happen they shouldn't stick with him because he MIGHT eventually come good. Others didn't have that luxury, nor should George.

  • Wayne_Larkins_Barnet on November 15, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    @ravi_hari, that is an excellent point you make about the number 6 needing to be versatile depending on who that bat with. Really good point, Bailey can do that job I think.

  • dunger.bob on November 15, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    I wonder how George is feeling right now. I can't imagine what it's like to have that sort of pressure on your shoulders. Scary.

    I honestly believe that what separates the men from the boys at Test level is the mental side of the game. If you're not tough enough between the ears to forget everything that's gone on before and focus your entire world onto the next ball, then you're in a lot of trouble. At least George seems to have that in him, so he's a chance of making some runs I'd say.

    I wonder how much leeway they'll give him. What if he has a double failure in Brisbane? Do they axe him after 1 match? .. All I can say is hope not. That's what they've been doing for a while now and the players know it. .. Kittens on a hot tin roof anyone.