Australian pride in 'making it uncomfortable' for England - Bailey
As a third England cricketer prepares to leave Australia before the end of the tour, George Bailey has said that there is a sense of pride in the home camp over the hostile environment they have created during the summer which has made the visitors feel uncomfortable.
Steven Finn joined Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott as players who have been unable to complete the tour although all three are for differing reasons. Trott's stress-related illness was a long-term issue that came to a head in Brisbane and has been treated with the understanding and respect that it has a wider significance than sport. Swann, meanwhile, opted to cut his tour short, and end his career, following the third Test in Perth after revealing his elbow was no longer up to the task of Test bowling, while Finn has endured a torrid time since arriving in Australia as his confidence hit an all-time low.
Yet, even many of those who completed the Test series finished with battered reputations, something the one-day squad and now trying to ensure does not happen to them. There is little sympathy emanating from the Australian players - although perhaps a little empathy into what tours-gone-bad can do to a squad - about the problems England have had over the last two-and-half months.
"We take a little bit of pride in it," Bailey said. "I guess in terms that we are making it so uncomfortable for guys whether that's through form or fitness. I don't think any of them are related and it could just be a coincidence that three have happened to do that. In the way we've played and the intensity and the media build-up of a series, it has been pretty big. There's no doubt there's been a lot of scrutiny.
"I think it is always challenging when you are a long way from home and from family and the things you know. With the shoe on the other foot we've been in that situation before and know how challenging it is. For us to have that advantage to be at home and to see our loved ones and to be in pretty comfortable surroundings, that's probably something that is fortunate for us."
The challenge is not going to get any more comfortable for England, either, with the return of Mitchell Johnson in Brisbane and he will no doubt be quick to remind those batsmen who faced him in the Test series about their problems. It was at the Gabba, on the fourth evening as Australia were closing in on victory, that the atmosphere in the middle involving Johnson, Bailey and Michael Clarke became fierce - Clarke ended up with a fine for his words to James Anderson - and there was a concerted effort throughout the series to keep England under pressure with words as well as deeds.
Bailey spent long periods of time perched at short leg and was often central to what was said in the middle but believes too much has been made of the confrontations.
"I'm sick of the sledging stuff to be honest. Just because you're aggressive, that seems to be a thing that everyone jumps towards. There's always stuff that's going to be said, I wouldn't read into the fact that just because there's two guys talking out there every time that they're ripping each other's heads off. There are a lot of blokes out there who get a long pretty well. There's a lot of times that you're having a joke or talking about plenty of things. The aggressive way we play is a mantra that is as much about the cricket as opposed to everything else."
The words 'aggressive' and 'attacking' were at the forefront when Bailey was discussing how Australia want to play their one-day cricket as they build towards the World Cup. "We hope that it is a brand of cricket that will take us onwards and upwards," he said. "We hope it's a type of cricket that will not only be good enough for England in this series but will be good enough for the world come February next year."
Bailey expects that other teams will watching closely, working out how they will tackle the variety of conditions provided for one-day cricket in Australia and offered a token note of encouragement towards England.
"I would be surprised if all teams aren't starting to have one eye on their planning and to get their squad and team balance right," he said. "England probably have a slight advantage in they get to play a five-game series this close to it."
That, though, was as close as it came to support from Australia to England.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo