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George Bailey and his pressing tasks in the next 12 months

New selection chief will play a key role in picking squads for the T20 World Cup and Ashes

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
While selectors can't score the runs or take the wickets, they do have to make the final decision on who is best placed to do so. George Bailey, Australia's new chairman of selectors, faces a number of big judgement calls over the next 12 months that will go a long way to defining this era of the men's team.
A team to win the T20 World Cup
It is a trophy Australia's men's team have never won (they will have two chances in the space of a year) and preparations for this year's edition have been far from ideal, with the current squad in the West Indies and Bangladesh stripped of a host of key names. However, in Bailey, they have someone very much in touch with the format - he has captained Australia in 28 of his 30 T20Is and played in the BBL as recently as the 2019-2020 season. The upcoming five games in Bangladesh are a last chance for the fringe candidates to impress Bailey, who will hope he has a full hand of players to select from for the final squad. If everyone is fit and available (captain Aaron Finch will shortly have knee surgery), the key decisions will be who fills the middle-order roles and who takes the wicketkeeping gloves.
Test batting spots
Test cricket has been thin on the ground for Australia during the pandemic and there will be a lot of people with fingers crossed that the Ashes goes ahead as scheduled. Last season's 2-1 loss to an injury-hit India left a number of question marks with the list of central contracts announced earlier this year highlighting the uncertainty over the batting. As it stands, there is at least an opener and a No. 5 needed, presuming the other spots are filled by David Warner, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green. With Warner being 34, it could also be that it is under Bailey's watch that his career draws to a close.
Managing bubble fatigue
No one really knows at the moment how the summer in Australia will play out although it seems increasingly likely there will be disruption at least to the early months. It also appears inevitable that there will need to be some type of bubble arrangement for internationals, which raises the question of how long players can stay in them. That is more than just an issue for Bailey, but he is likely to be the latest selector around the world to accept he may not always be able to pick from his strongest hand.
Embrace rotation?
This is partly related to the above point but would be a topic of debate - pandemic or not. One of the strategies Trevor Hohns presided over in his second spell as chairman was the largely successful approach to mixing and matching Australia's pace attack during the 2019 Ashes. Whether it's termed rotation or conditions-based selection, it is the only time in Test cricket they have really embraced a squad mentality with the bowling attack. It will be no easy task for Bailey to tell one of the quicks they aren't playing but with six Tests in less than two months it's all but inevitable. Over to you, James Pattinson, Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson.
Captaincy transition
Hohns oversaw many changes of Australia's captaincy, and most of them very successfully. Bailey looks certain to have that situation early in his tenure with the passing of the baton from Tim Paine to his successor: a successful home Ashes could be the moment to exit on a high, but another home defeat means Paine probably wouldn't be left with a choice. It is still far from clear who would follow Paine. Pat Cummins is the vice-captain and is probably favourite while Labuschagne has been tipped in some quarters but lacks experience. Could the uncapped Alex Carey yet make it back-to-back glovemen in the role or does Smith return?
Subcontinent challenge
If the schedule plays out as currently planned, Australia have a trio of subcontinent tours next year that will make or break their chances in the World Test Championship. Trips to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India will provide stern challenges for the adaptability of the Test team that hasn't played away from home since the 2019 Ashes. The balance of the side will be the key debate although Green's emergence will help that if his bowling returns to full tilt. Legspinner Mitchell Swepson looks well placed for elevation, but can Ashton Agar come again as a Test cricketer or Adam Zampa transfer his white-ball skills to red?
2023 planning
This can be filed under the slightly longer-term folder - there are two T20 World Cups to sort out first - but it won't be too long before attention needs to turn to the next ODI event in India. Their semi-final exit in 2019 was a pass mark given what the team had gone through in the build-up, but they won't want to go two editions without making the final. Of late, the format has run third behind Test cricket and T20, but the results have been good with series wins over England, India, and the West Indies. The World Cup may be the last hurrah for many players in the 50-over game.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo