I’m focused on the India series, not the Ashes, says George Bailey

Image courtesy of: The Hindu

“I think there’s probably eight guys who have got a chance of playing in that Ashes team”

Australia captain George Bailey has announced that he is more focused on the ongoing limited overs series against India than the Ashes as he believes that “there’s probably eight guys who have got a chance of playing in that Ashes team”.

Bailey has also become the first Australian to register more than 300 runs in a bilateral ODI series after scoring 98 during the fourth ODI in Ranchi.

The previous record belonged to former skipper Ricky Ponting, who scored 295 in five matches at an impressive average of 73.75 against the West Indies in 2009-10.

“No, both eyes on the ball,” Bailey said. “That’s very important. I think there’s probably eight guys who have got a chance of playing in that Ashes team. It’s so far away. It’s just ridiculous to look at it. There’s guys who will be at home playing Shield cricket, we’ve got Australia A games when we get back. It’s a completely different format. Completely different surface. I don’t think there’s anyone out playing in these games thinking about that series.”

Despite smashing 98 off 94 balls, which included seven boundaries and three sixes, Bailey felt as if it wasn’t one of his best knocks.

“I was dropped twice,” he said. “I was a bit frustrated out there and found it quite difficult.

“I think Maxy’s innings was absolutely superb. We’ve seen his hitting before and we’ve seen how he can take games away late in an innings. But to come in with the team under pressure, with the ball still doing a little bit, I thought he summed it up. He still hit the boundaries and sixes but he hit them off the balls that he needed to hit. He didn’t take any risks. They were smart shots in his areas. He took the pressure off me. When you’ve got someone scoring at the pace he was, it put the pressure right back on India. It was a great knock.”

Bailey also revealed that Maxwell’s arrival at the crease instantaneously changed the atmosphere.

“I thought Maxwell found it conducive to strokeplay,” Bailey said. “It was still a good batting wicket. Probably what it did that the other wickets haven’t done is it swung and seamed and spat a little bit, particularly at the start. From the moment Maxwell strode to the crease he made it look like a different wicket.”

Speaking about Maxwell’s love of playing the reverse sweep shot, Bailey conceded that the all-rounder practised the stroke every time he was in the nets.

“He practises that as much as I’ve ever seen anyone practise it,” Bailey said. “No more so than I see Shane Watson practising the straight drive. If that’s a shot he’s put the time into – and we’ve seen him put that time into it – then he has absolutely every right to play it. As long as the circumstances are right. I think the field that he had and the plan that he had was spot on. And he executed them both very well.”

The Australian captain also admitted that he was confident of being able to defend the 295 his side had posted in the fourth ODI.

“We were confident but I’m sure India probably were as well,” he said. “Given the way the series has gone…strong batting line-up, I’m sure they would’ve been. We just felt there was enough movement in the wicket, particularly early on. Looking at our scorecard it would suggest that new batters found it difficult at the wicket. It was hard to get started. We were hoping if we could get a couple of wickets you could make that quite challenging. And certainly the pace that Mitch (Johnson) was getting it through early on, it looked like that was going to be quite difficult to play at different stages at the game.

“Certainly 50 overs we were confident and happy to back. I think the way Duckworth-Lewis is set up, I think if it had become a 20-over game it probably would’ve suited India quite a bit.”

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