The Ashes 2013/14: George Bailey could be Australia's Test number six
George Bailey could well be batting his way into Australia's top six for the Ashes, says Dominic Cork.
By Dominic Cork
Last Updated: 16/10/13 4:20pm
Bailey, 31, followed up his 85 in the first one-dayer against India with an unbeaten 92 off just 50 balls in Jaipur, an innings that featured eight fours and five sixes.
Australia fielded different batting line-ups in each of the five Tests this summer as they lost the Ashes 3-0 but Cork told Sky Cricket that Bailey could bring some solidity to the middle order if selected at six ahead of Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja or, indeed, limited overs specialists Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell.
"Every cricketer who has played international cricket knows there are certain ways of getting into different teams," reflected former all-rounder Cork, who played 37 Tests and 32 ODIs for England.
"What Bailey, Maxwell and Finch are doing now in this form of the game and Twenty20 is saying 'I want to play in all forms'.
"Bailey has taken on the responsibility of the one-day captaincy and he's batting at No 4, which is a very important position to play, keeping the stability of the innings together.
"He came over and played for Hampshire and did well in four-day cricket, even if it was division two, but he still did well and he seems to have a good temperament.
"So do Australia go back to Phil Hughes, who we know struggles technically, or do they try Finch who has come through since that Twenty20 innings at Southampton?
"Australia used to have sixes and sevens - the likes of Adam Gilchrist - who could change the whole game within an hour. Could Finch be the man to do that?
"His first-class record isn't great but it might be a gamble worth taking. When Duncan Fletcher plucked Marcus Trescothick it was a gamble and it came off - it was a fantastic bit of selection - and maybe Darren Lehmann has stayed at home so he can look at other people coming up from State cricket.
"If you asked me as a former captain who I would go for at the moment, and I'm eating my words massively here because initially I couldn't understand why he was given the captaincy, it would be George Bailey."
Australian coach Lehmann also has decisions to make on the bowling front ahead of the return series, although with James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird all struggling with injury and Ryan Harris still some way off full fitness, his options could well be limited.
Given the injury situation, Australia could have as many as eight bowlers on stand-by for the Ashes and Cork believes such uncertainty - and inconsistency in selection - could adversely affect the home team's chances.
"Australia are going to have a big decision to make over their team," he said. "They'll need 20 wickets to win each Test, so are they happy with four bowlers or will they go with five and will they be confident enough to play a spinner?
"Finding the right balance is vital. At some stage they are going to have to gamble and either play an extra batsman and four bowlers, or five bowlers including an all-rounder.
"We've seen over a period of time that they cannot keep the same bowling attack fit. They've got to get their best bowling attack on the pitch as many times as possible because when the likes of Harris and Siddle play they can make a difference.
"The pitches in Australia will have a little bit more pace and bounce and Harris consistently hits good lengths and makes it challenging for any batsman. You have to use the Kookaburra ball very well early on.
"They've chopped and changed their spin option all the way through. Nathan Lyon is never going to be a Graeme Swann but he has done his job. Australia need to decide if they need a spinner to take lots of wickets or a spinner to control the game?
"Fawad Ahmed wasn't a big spinner of the ball so I think they'll go with Lyon - if they decide to play a spinner; otherwise they could well go seam-only."
Corky's Australia team (subject to fitness): Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin, Glenn Maxwell or James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc or Mitchell Johnson.
Twelfth man: Nathan Lyon