George Bailey regularly deposits the ball into the stands but he can be hardly described as a slogger. There is a touch of grace to George Bailey’s ferocious batsmanship.
Leading the Australian squad in the seven-match one-day series in place of an injured Michael Clarke, the right-hander has more than managed to hold his own both as batsman and captain.
In a series that has so far been dominated by batsmen from either side, Bailey has led Australia’s run-glut with consistent performances. With 318 runs from four matches (including the abandoned Ranchi game), he is the top run-getter in the rubber, ahead of India’s Virat Kohli. Those runs have come at an impressive strike rate of around 112 and at a staggering average of 106.
His performance against India in the on-going series has been in tune with his remarkable run this year. He is the second highest run-maker (938 runs at an average of 62.5) this year behind Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (961). At 31, the Tasmanian is no spring chicken but he appears to be making up for the lost time. Having made his international debut only last February, Bailey has stacked up 1,379 runs in 33 one-day internationals at 53.04
One of the keys to Bailey’s successful batting has been how well he has negated the effect of Indian spinners. Of course, it’s a different format and it’s a white ball, but it is hard not to recall Australia’s travails against the turning ball in the four-Test series early this year. Clarke and company were clearly out of their depth during their 0-4 drubbing. While the pitches have had little to offer for the spinners, they have probably done some home work on their perceived weakness.
“I didn't do anything different,” said Bailey when asked if he specifically worked on any aspect of his game. “I think coming over here you focus a little bit more on how you're going to play spin, because India have good spinners. It's important to be at the top of your game there. I'd done a lot of that leading into England series as well, so that wasn't too much different,” he reasoned.
It was during their whitewash by India in the Test series that Australia faced a revolt-like situation within their side. Coach Mickey Arthur and skipper Clarke had their plates full during that ‘home-work gate’, trying to keep the team together.
During the current series, the Australian outfit has looked a happy unit perhaps reflecting in their performance which they were suspected incapable of.
Phillip Hughes, who has forged a successful partnership with Aaron Finch at the top of order, vouched for Bailey’s positive influence on the group. “He has been outstanding,” noted the left-hander.
“He is a real good character and we all really love playing under George. He has really led from the front with the bat on a consistent basis and he has been very consistent in the one-day format in the last 12 months. Again in this series, he has batted really beautifully... great to see the leader lead from the front.”
Amazingly enough, Bailey was handed the captaincy in his debut match but he has managed to earn the respect of his more established team-mates with his pleasing demeanour and no-nonsense approach. “I learnt a lot from Dan Marsh, who was my captain at Tasmania,” Bailey noted, talking about his captaincy.
“He's now the Tasmanian coach. Both in terms of temperament and the way he communicated and his knowledge of the game, I don't think I'll ever have that but I certainly learnt a lot and continue to learn a lot off him. I think you take little bits off absolutely everyone you play. Playing a year with Ricky (Ponting) last year was fantastic, and I've loved playing under Pup (Clarke) too. From everyone you play under and everyone you play with, you learn so much. There's so much to learn if you are willing,” he elaborated.