George Bailey is ready to make the leap from limited-overs sensation to the Test arena, according to Australia’s pace leader Ryan Harris.
The 31-year-old Tasmania captain has been heavily tipped to be named in the Australian team on Tuesday for the opening match of the Ashes series next week, an honour that would make him the country’s 436th Test cricketer.
It is a squad captain Michael Clarke predicted, on Monday, was full of ”no-brainers”, all but picking itself. But, for Bailey, selection against England would be the culmination of a long-held ambition.
Nine years after his first-class debut, he was considered for a berth on Australia’s tour of India earlier this year but, after a Sheffield Shield season in which he averaged only 18, his inclusion could not be justified.
Form, however, is anything but an issue for him at present, even if it is with a different coloured ball.
Bailey’s 478 runs in six games, at an average of 95.6, lit up Australia’s one-day series in India and rammed home what he has been quietly arguing with the bat since his ODI debut 20 months ago: that he can be an international player to be reckoned with.
Australia are searching for a middle-order rock that can go some way towards replicating what another late Test bloomer, Mike Hussey, was able to provide and Bailey, who has been in competition with state colleague Alex Doolan for a maiden call-up in Brisbane, will be hoping he can be it.
”I think he’s ready for it,” Harris said. ”I think he’s in the form of his life. He’s done very well in the one-day arena and just bowling to him last week [in the Shield match between Queensland and Tasmania] … he just looks solid.
”He’s obviously got his game where he wants it to be and he’s on top of his game. If someone is like that and is in form, I think it [doesn’t matter] what form of the game you’re playing, it’s the same result – you’ve still got to watch the ball and hit the ball and that’s what he’s doing.”
The great-great-grandson of George Herbert Bailey, a Tasmanian cricketer who toured England in 1878, Bailey is rated for his leadership qualities; the attribute behind his shock elevation to the Twenty20 captaincy two summers ago when he had not yet played for Australia.
Harris said Bailey’s modest return in first-class cricket last season should be overlooked given his recent output.
”Sometimes you have to forget about averages and, at this point in time, with such a big series, you’ve got to pick your best players to be in those positions,” he said. ”He’s one of those guys at the moment.”
Elsewhere, the Australian squad was expected to have few surprises, with David Warner retained at the top of the order after an explosive start to the season and Mitchell Johnson to join Harris and Peter Siddle in the attack after also starring in India.
Likely Australia team for first Test in Brisbane:
Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus/James Faulkner.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.