The Ashes 2013-14 December 10, 2013

WACA will offer 'something for everyone' - Bailey


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 here

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  • Mark on December 13, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    @Meety - You can't really compare Walters retiring at 36 and Hussey at 37. Walters was dropped, or as his cricinfo profile says "overlooked". Hussey was still one of the best 2-3 batsmen in Australia and would have been a certain pick had he not retired to spend more time with his family.

    I don't think most cricketers retire early to make money in IPL, they can do that anyway. You will probably find that for most of them, it's the constant travel wears them down and by doing just the IPL/Big Bash they can spend most of their time with their families and still make a decent income.

  • Andrew on December 12, 2013, 1:24 GMT

    @dunger.bob on (December 11, 2013, 11:00 GMT) - Oz players are certainly seeming to be playing longer/later than they use to. I think it is the pay in some cases, but I think the sports science (which does cop a lot of criticsm), certainly helps players stay fitter, which also probably leads to the 3rd reason - lessor beer culture. I love a good beer & we all love hearing stories about how Dougie Walters was once so hungover on a Saffa tour he couldn't see Proctor at the end of his run up & could only focus on him when he was almost at the crease! That said - he was basically 36 when he retired, which is within a year of Mike Hussey, who you would think is the epitome of pro-fitness!! All that said - I can see the lure of the IPL seeing some players retire from International cricket earlier, for their superannuation!

  • rob on December 11, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    I'd throw Ludeman from the Redbacks in with the keepers. He looks extremely neat behind the sticks and his batting is OK and improving. I think.

    Re the age of the Aussies. I've got a theory that Aussie cricketers are maturing later but playing longer than we used to. I suppose much higher pay and better injury treatment are the reasons for that. Back in the 70's and even 80's many guys had to stop playing games and get a real job once they got married and had some kids. That's if they didn't have to retire because of some knee or shoulder damage that was inoperable back then but they fix in an hour with key-hole surgery these days. (A/c, medial ligaments etc)

  • madan on December 11, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Dear all , i would like to share my views on present Australia team . wade can play as a batsman , Paine can be hand over glove work and play at 7 in test team . as far as my concern Shaun marsh , Wade , Paine , Ferguson , Khawaja ,smith , Hughes , etc can be given a chance and reform of Australian

  • Steve on December 11, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    Australia finally start to play some competitive cricket and already you lot are swinging the changes, talking about replacements and getting ready to sack people. I can't stand this constant yabber about age, with today's physio, fitness levels, diet etc there is no reason players can't go on into their 40s. Haddin is keeping well and batting well, let's give him a couple of years, Bailey will always be a scrapper so leave him where he is and as for Rogers, a few short months ago you all were calling him the saviour and now you want him gone??? I don't get it, what has the poor guy done? Whilst he is averaging in the high 30s off 100 balls and Warner is smashing them leave him there.

  • Wayne on December 11, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    @heathr1974 I always laugh at the cricket commentators when they go on about the "Freo Doctor". Most locals don't even call it that, we just refer to it as a "westerly". About 10 to 15 days during summer you get a mild easterly when the temps are high (37 degree's plus) like it will be during the test. On days like these you can practically water ski from Fremantle to Rottnest because the Indian Ocean is so flat. The remaining days in summer, you tend to go to the beach before 10.30am so you can beat the "Freo Doctor/Westerly". Windsurfers and traditional swing bowlers love it over here.

  • Heath on December 11, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Thanks for the insight LoungeChairCritic.

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    @CricketMaan Off the top of my head id say Tim Paine and Joe Burns/Alex Doolan.

  • Bryn on December 11, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    im tipping warner to break the record for the fastest test century and for England to get bowled out for less than the 51 they managed against the windies that time

  • Ben on December 11, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    @CricketMaan: I reckon Tim Paine will come in for Haddin, probably after the next World Cup (which Haddin has said his what he's aiming at. At this rate can't see him not making it). He's not quite as good a batsman as Wade, but is a far better keeper. For Bailey, assuming he can keep his spot for 1-2 years, I reckon Jordan Silk will be a great choice. He's looked good in his early Shield games, with another couple of years to grow up he should be a fantastic player.

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