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December 10, 2013
'Mickey Arthur could have something to do with this'
Under the helmet at short leg, George Bailey had the best possible view of England's fear against Mitchell Johnson this series. His sympathy for the tail even stretched to suggesting that the No.11 Monty Panesar get his elbow out of the way; blood on the pitch should be only an expression. Bailey knows where he speaks. In a Sheffield Shield match at the WACA two years ago, he made 116 for Tasmania in an innings in which Johnson claimed a five-wicket haul.
"I'd be lying if I said it was much fun, that's for sure," Bailey said of facing Johnson at the WACA. "It's a challenge. When you come to the WACA, you know you're going to get fast, bouncy wickets and you know you've got to deal with that as a batter. But I think it's a great place to bat, I think the fast bowlers get excited when they come here and the batters do as well .There's something there for everyone and if you can invest a little bit of time as a batsman there's plenty of runs to be had."
Nothing in Bailey's brief Test career suggests that the WACA is his kind of place. In his two appearances in the baggy green, Bailey's scoring has been dominated by runs against the spinners. He has taken 68 runs from the 94 deliveries he has faced from Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Joe Root, and only 22 off 74 from the seamers. Every one of the 28 deliveries James Anderson has bowled to Bailey has been a dot.
If that suggests a weakness against pace, it is misleading. Nearly half his first-class runs have been scored at the Bellerive Oval, where quick bowlers dominate on green seamers, and the WACA has provided him with his second-best average of any of Australia's six major grounds. Although at times it has seemed that Bailey's aggression against the spinners, often lofting down the ground, was a plan, he said it was simply a matter of wanting to play his natural game.
"No, no plan at all. I guess you can only score off what you happen to be facing," Bailey said. "There's no real plan. I certainly think that at my age I'm only going to get one crack at a Test career, so one of the things I'm trying to be really conscious of is doing it my way, so that when it does come to an end you don't look back and feel like there are any regrets, or wish you'd played a different way."
Bailey's style has brought him gradually increasing scores - 3, 34 and 53 - and he is in the exceptionally rare position of having the chance to begin his Test career with three wins against England to retain the Ashes. Nevertheless, Bailey knows that he cannot be satisfied with solid starts, and said it was disappointing not to have gone on with it in the first innings at Adelaide Oval, given the friendly conditions.
"It was a bit frustrating, really," he said. "It was a beautiful batting wicket and Michael [Clarke] and I had sort of wrestled the momentum back, so for me to get out late in the day left the innings in a bit of a precarious position. Pup and Hadds had a wonderful partnership to get us flying into day two, but certainly for me, my scores are going up so hopefully that continues."
Should Australia win at the WACA, it will be the crowning glory for the majority of the squad, as Clarke is the only member of the side who has played in an Ashes-winning team. But despite the opportunity, Bailey said Australia would not get ahead of themselves in Perth.
"It's very much been drilled into us that we have won two Tests in 12 months," he said. "Whilst the cricket that we're playing at the moment is very pleasing, it's about being able to replicate that, no matter the conditions and no matter the ground."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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