bailey
George Bailey has taken maximum responsibility in Australia’s current ODI side © AFP

So finally some respite for Australia. After losing the Test series without putting up a fight, Australia have won the ODI series against Sri Lanka with one match to go. A team of Australia’s stature hardly goes through such turbulent phase, but they have always faced the heat while touring Asia. Connoisseurs of cricket had written Australia off after the one-sided Test series and had predicted a similar script for the ODIs, but Australia hit back with determination and eagerness. Had Australia lost the ODIs, several cricketers would have faced the axe, but none more than George Bailey, the name that always comes to one’s mind following a list of harsh decisions by Cricket Australia (CA) since his arrival. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs Sri Lanka, 4th ODI at Dambulla

Bailey: A pawn of his national side?

In 2012, Bailey made his T20I debut and became the second Australian after Dave Gregory to lead in his very first international match. This, without doubt, exemplified the trust CA had on the right-hander. When it comes to ODIs, he always filled in form regular skipper, Michael Clarke. At that point Clarke was battling a persistent back injury, which ruled him out of multiple limited-overs series.

Bailey, equipped with a smart cricketing brain, managed to cope well with added responsibilities. The big names in the lineup helped his cause. He did not have a lot of time to settle down, but he lived up to the challenge, and did the same with that trademark broad smile on his face. ALSO READ: George Bailey’s brilliance, John Hastings’s six-for and other highlights

Hence, it is baffling to see CA’s treatment of Bailey. At times Bailey has been used as a specialist captain of sorts, his batting talents completely forgotten. It is safe to say that players like Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner have flourished more under him initially in their careers. Here is a table illustrating their contributions under Bailey:

Player

Mat

Runs

SR

Ave

James Faulkner

22

538

120.4

67.25

Glenn Maxwell

27

766

121.4

30.64

These are excellent numbers. One must remember that 15 of these matches (for both) have come overseas. Also, Faulkner being an all-rounder did pretty well with the ball under Bailey by taking 27 wickets from those 22 games.

A genuine leader promoting youngsters:

Bailey’s record as skipper has also been decent. He has displayed good understanding by promoting youngsters, taking a backseat himself, shuffling his bowlers and remaining calm and composed irrespective of situations. It was under his able leadership that Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) played their maiden IPL final, in 2014. Under him KXIP displayed everything on the field with a purpose with youngsters being given full freedom to express themselves.

Wriddhiman Saha, Akshar Patel and Mandeep Singh got a call for the national team after a successful run post-IPL 2014 and they will believe that Bailey had a role to play in their selection. The same holds for Maxwell and David Miller as well. Following are the records of Bailey as Australia and KXIP skipper, particularly in 2014:

In IPL 2014

Mat

Won

Lost

Runs

Ave

George Bailey

17

12

5

257

28.55

 

As captain for Australia in ODIs (2013-2015)

Mat

Won

Lost

NR

Runs

Ave

George Bailey

29

16

10

3

1034

38.29

Series

Won

Lost

Draw

9

5

3

1

Ian Chappell has time and again slammed Bailey’s credentials. He took a jibe at him on his T20 selection in 2012: “When you are fitting George Bailey in and one of David Hussey, Glenn Maxwell or Cameron White is going to miss out, three pretty dynamic middle-order players, it’s a mistake and it’s a handicap for Australia”, stated Chappell.

Bailey may not come up as a power-hitter, but is a sweet timer of the ball. He takes his time and plays according to situations holding one end firmly. An average of 42.47 is excellent (especially at a strike rate of 84.8); a lineup of big hitters boasting of David Warner, Aaron Finch, Maxwell and Faulkner need men like Steven Smith and Bailey to shoulder responsibility.

Talking about his record in ODIs, he is currently Australia’s most dependable batsman in the crucial middle-order. Since January 2016, he has been Australia’s top run getter in limited-overs. Be it in the Tri-Nation series in West Indies or ongoing series against Sri Lanka, he has single-handedly imbibed pressure situations and bailed his side when their regular captain Smith was ‘resting’ and stand-in skipper Warner’s willow has been silent for a while.

Best find in the middle since 2012?

If we take a look at his records at Nos. 4 and 5, Bailey has been Australia’s best find after Michael Bevan and Damien Martyn. A slot where a batter needs time, play the decisive middle overs and later on go for the glory shots, Bailey has done full justice and stitched important partnerships with players like Travis Head and Matthew Wade.

When others have been off colour, Bailey has effortlessly preened youngsters in testing conditions of Sri Lanka. He has churned out stability in the middle soaking pressure effortlessly. Here is another table showing his staggering records at No. 4 and 5 positions:

Australian batsmen performance at no. 4 since 2000

Player

Mat

Runs

HS

Ave

100s & 50s

Michael Clarke (2004-15)

117

4223

130

46.4

5 & 32

Damien Martyn (2000-06)

102

3077

104*

42.15

3 & 24

George Bailey (2012-16)

43

1722

156

45.31

2 & 14

Michael Bevan (2000-04)

43

1542

107

53.17

2 & 11

Michael Hussey (2006-12)

30

1077

105

48.95

1 & 10

 

Australian batsmen performance at no. 5 since 2005

Player

Inns

Runs

HS

Ave

100s & 50s

Andrew Symonds (2005-09)

74

2446

156

44.47

4 & 17

Michael Hussey (2006-12)

46

1544

108

44.11

1 & 12

Cameroon White (2009-11)

32

905

105

37.7

1 & 4

Glenn Maxwell (2013-16)

29

899

102

34.57

1 & 6

George Bailey (2012-16)

24

812

125*

42.73

1 & 6

Despite all this, Bailey somehow goes unnoticed, the limelight staying with Smith, Warner, Faulkner, Finch and Mitchell Starc. But the selectors somehow keep missing the point.

Bailey led in Australia’s inaugural match in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and scored a valiant 47 in a win against England. Despite that he was left out for the rest of the tournament once Clarke took over. He was ironically the vice-captain of the side for the marquee event. ALSO READ: David Warner and the Australian domination in IPL

Bailey’s 28 runs in a single over against James Anderson showed he has the ability to perform in every form of the sport, but will probably have to clamour on top of his voice to earn some accolades. Until then, the curious case of George Bailey continues as he continues to do his job nonchalantly.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with Criclife.com. He can be followed on Twitter @abhik2593 and on Facebook at abhicricket.kumar)