Australia v South Africa, Tri-series, final, Harare September 6, 2014

'It was a 280-300 wicket' - Bailey

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'Plenty of positives from the series' - Bailey

George Bailey rued the inability of his batsmen to weather the Dale Steyn storm after Australia's six-wicket defeat to South Africa in the final of the Zimbabwean tri-series. Bailey suggested that Australia should have reached 300 on another fairly placid pitch, and it appeared as much when South Africa cantered home with 55 balls to spare.

"They bowled very, very well," Bailey conceded. "It's actually easier to swallow when you can say we were outplayed today. They bowled really tightly to start and made it hard for us to score early and then once they had the ball going reverse Dale Steyn was able to show his class. It was really challenging.

"Having said that, most of our top five got starts. Finchy just needed someone to stick around and help him out a little bit, and get through that challenging period of the innings. We were short with the runs. It was another one of those 280 to 300 runs wickets."

With three defeats in five games for Australia through the series, Bailey also suggested that the tour might be viewed as somewhat less than successful. "We came to win, there's no doubt about that," he said. "So that would have been successful.

"In the Zimbabwe game we didn't play spin very well, and that's something we've been working on and will be working on. Today, not so much. South Africa just played a really good game of cricket today, at the top of their game. In hindsight, we just needed two people in the top order to get through that period of really challenging bowling and get into the innings.

"Completely outclassed I guess, but still only 60 runs short of competitive. We've seen that with wickets in hand at the end that's really only five or six overs so not too far away, but happy to take my hat off to South Africa and say 'well played.'"

One might suggest what Australia needed was an equivalent to South Africa's Faf du Plessis. Bailey will have seen plenty of du Plessis over the last two weeks, with the batsman racking up 464 runs at 92.80 and earning the Man of the Series award.

"If you look at the victorious side today, you've had a guy score almost four centuries out of five games," said Bailey. "You're always going to be really competitive when somebody in your top order is doing that. So it's a really good lesson for our top order. Look at how South Africa played today - they took wickets and that's really key in one-day cricket, to find a way to take wickets. The best games that we played over here were the games where we found a way to take wickets no matter the conditions."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town