With a poor loss to England in the Ashes 2013, Australia’s obsession and effort to reclaim it later in the year is set to soar to never-seen-before heights. Even as most cricketers in the country are striving hard to make it to the Test squad, George Bailey — Australia’s stand-in One-Day Internationals (ODI) skipper for the India series — has what it takes for Australia’s revival and ascent in ODIs. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.
George Bailey is an interesting character. He happens to be a modern-day cricketer with the know-how of the rapidly growing game, and yet he comes with the old-world charm of a typical Australian bloke. Cricket in his country has reached a stage where there seems to be self-doubt reeking from a side that was unarguably the most intimidating one to set foot on the field not more than a decade ago. Yet, the Tasmanian has been a bright spot in the otherwise dull unit.
Bailey has struck the right chords in numerous interviews and press conferences in the recent past, talking on topics ranging from the ODI series against England to David Warner’s punch on Joe Root. With growing media scrutiny, many cricketers have often taken an easy route via diplomacy in most tricky situations. But, here is a man telling you things exactly the way he sees them.
Be it Warner’s off-field troubles or Fawad Ahmed-Doug Walters controversy regarding the sponsors logo, Bailey has stood firmly behind his current teammates even as the board took the high moral ground. After calling Warner’s punch on Joe Root a ‘minor incident’, Bailey went on to stick his neck out for Fawad and said that the Pakistani-born cricketer had seen worse and will rise above the ongoing issue. Ahead of an important series against India, Bailey made the right noises by being dismissive in his response to Ian Chappell’s comments about the tour being badly timed.
Bailey, with a smile that he wears all through the day, inspires confidence that all will be good in Australian cricket again. In the midst of the growing turmoil on and off the field, his optimism doused in fervent backing for his team mates brings back the memory of the closely-knit unit of the 2000s that had the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, watching each other’s backs in troubled times.
Bailey’s positive approach is a step towards reviving that element in the dressing room and translating the confidence on the field. Although he faces an uphill task to get the better of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men in their own backyard, Bailey would like to begin with the belief that it’s not entirely impossible. With a new-look squad filled with a lot of young talent, he might just end up ruffling a few feathers.
A couple of wins in India, even a series win perhaps, could be a great start for Bailey to stamp his authority as the limited-overs captain and slowly take over the baton from Michael Clarke who could soon be forced to give up playing in coloured clothing to prolong his Test career. With his astute leadership skills and handy contributions with the bat in the middle-order, Bailey seems like the perfect architect to rebuild Australia into the intimidating force that they were in the bygone era.