George Bailey, Australia's T20 captain, will lead Kings XI Punjab in the IPL this season. Bailey will be the second Australian to lead Kings XI after Adam Gilchrist, who lead the franchise in the last two seasons before retiring last year.
Bailey was one of the four Australians purchased by the franchise at the players auction on February, along with Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh. His price tag of Rs 3.25 crore ($531,000 approx) was fractionally more than Virender Sehwag, who was the bargain buy at Rs 3.2 crore ($522,800 approx).
According to Sanjay Bangar, the Kings XI coach, Bailey was the "unanimous choice", and only candidate considered by him and the franchise owners. Bangar pointed out the biggest factor that swung things in the favour of Bailey was his leadership pedigree.
Incidentally, in 2011 when the Australian selectors appointed him as the T20 captain, Bailey became only the second man since Dave Gregory in 1877, to lead the team in his first match for the country in any format.
"He was the unanimous choice. He has got success as a leader in the domestic tournaments like Sheffield Shield in Australia," Bangar told ESPNcricinfo. "He had also lead Australia in the Twenty20 format. And then the overall type of character he is, who can understand a range of players from the bigger names to ones that have limited ability. We are confident he has the ability to bring out the best from everyone."
Bailey, 31, previously played in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings for three years from the 2009 season, before being released in 2012. However, the presence of many allrounders forced Bailey to spend time in the dugout. In the three innings he managed, he scored 63 runs at a strike rate of 95.33.
Bailey has captained Australia in 24 T20Is and helped the team to 13 victories with good numbers: 435 runs at a strike rate of 146.95.
A man with a happy disposition during tense moments, Bailey has proved himself to be an aggressive middle-order batsman who can accelerate without much fuss. He was the top-scorer for Hobart Hurricanes who finished runners-up to Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League final, a week before the auction.
"We required a player with past leadership experience. The second and crucial aspect was to have a player who was guaranteed a place in the team for all matches," Bangar said, adding the other elements that were taken into account before picking Bailey as the captain.
Bangar also pointed out that Bailey would obviously make use of a senior player like Virender Sehwag, who had led his previous franchise Delhi Daredevils in the past. "Within that group we would definitely like to utilise the experience of senior guys like Viru, who are bound to perform the role of mentors. But on the field Bailey will be the captain."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo