Stepping into the shoes of Michael Clarke is not an easy task. Especially when you have not played an ODI against India. George Bailey, who has featured in just 29 one-dayers for Australia six as captain is still coming to terms with his job.
The 31-year-old Tasmanian, however, is no stranger to India or the conditions here. Thanks to the Indian Premier League, Bailey is one of many international cricketers who knows his way around on these shores. He played the last of his four matches for Chennai Super Kings in the 2010 season.
Australia will miss the services of regular skipper Clarke, who pulled out of the tour (one Twenty20 match and seven ODIs) due to a recurring back injury. One of the few Aussies who has had tremendous success in India, Clarke’s presence will be badly missed as Australia hope regain the No. 1 ranking in the 50-over game.
“You take MS Dhoni out (of the Indian team) and that probably answers your question,” Australia coach Steve Rixon said on Monday when asked how much Clarke would be missed.
Bailey’s leadership skills, however, cannot be doubted. His stint as skipper of Tasmania impressed the selectors so much that they named him captain of the national team right away. In fact, he made his Australia debut as skipper, thereby becoming only the second from his country to do so since Dave Gregory in 1877. Bailey has figured in 18 T20 Internationals, all as skipper.
Rixon backed Bailey to come good on this tour. “It (inexperience in captaincy) is one of our learning curves at the moment,” Rixon said. “We have got to pass that. It’s probably a nemesis.
George is relatively new to captaincy. In the time he was captain, he was very competitive with the job. He’s done it with distinction in T20s and gets an opportunity to do it in ODIs. It is probably our weakness. However, it is also our strength as youthful exuberance often can be very good when it comes to final approaches.”
Bailey is not one of those Australian captains or players who talks big before a series. He is aware that there are no superstars in his side and that he has to get all his 13 teammates together if they are to challenge the might of MS Dhoni and his men. “Certain individuals make predictions before a series. I think that was a way they challenged themselves, got themselves fired up for the series. This group doesn’t need to do that. We have got enough challenges. We don’t have superstars like Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath. We don’t rely heavily on any one or two players. If we are going to play good one day cricket, if we are to win this series, we will need all 13 or 14 of us to play really well,” Bailey said.
Bailey can take confidence from the fact that Australia won each of their last three bilateral ODI series in India – 4-3 in 2010-11, 4-2 in 2007-08 and 3-2 in 2000-01. He also has the advantage of having most players who have been part of the IPL and who have played in India before.