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“You watch him in the nets and as he admits, he’s not the prettiest looking batter at times and you think ‘how can this bloke score runs?’ but get him out in the middle of the contest and George finds a way”
Australia batting coach Michael di Venuto has announced that Twenty20 captain George Bailey may not be the “prettiest” batsman when it comes to Test cricket, but he gets the job done.
Bailey has currently scored of 6011 first-class runs, which includes 14 centuries, at a respectable average of 38.28, but many former players, especially ex-skipper Ian Chappell, are still not convinced that he is ready for Test cricket, let alone an Ashes series.
Chappell noted that Bailey should not have been picked for the upcoming Ashes series since he has a weakness against short-pitched deliveries, which is a ploy highly likely to be implemented by England’s lanky pace attack.
However, di Venuto defended Bailey, stating that he has all the credentials and experience to become a solid Test player.
“When I’ve seen people bowl short to him he normally plays it pretty well,” di Venuto said. “He’s got a pull and a hook shot, it’s just picking the right balls, like it is with anything. Test cricket is all about decision-making, whether you’re going to play at the ball or not, because you’re there to bat for long periods of time.
“It doesn’t mean you have to change your attacking ways, it’s just a matter of picking the right balls to attack, so that when it comes into your areas you pick them off. If it’s not there in your areas, you let them go or defend. That’s as simple as George has got to keep it.”
Di Venuto played alongside Bailey for Tasmania in 2005 and speaking from experience, the Australian batting coach stated that Bailey deserved to be included in the Ashes squad since he always “finds a way” to get the job done.
“George has always been a player who finds a way,” di Venuto said. “You watch him in the nets and as he admits, he’s not the prettiest looking batter at times and you think ‘how can this bloke score runs?’ but get him out in the middle of the contest and George finds a way. Hopefully he can adapt to Test cricket just as quickly as he has one-day international cricket, and how he did when he first started playing for Tasmania.”
Despite having an outstanding limited overs tour of India, where he scored 478 runs, including a career-best 156, at an incredible average of 95.60, Bailey has not been able to score a first-class century in his last 18 matches.
“His season was very stop-start,” di Venuto said. “He had no momentum going into four-day cricket. He had Big Bash, he was away playing for Australia, our wickets at the start of last year [in Hobart] weren’t that great, they’d been relaid and were up and down. Sometimes batters just have poor years, for whatever reason, and it can be in just one form of the game.
“Last season for whatever reason, George didn’t perform in four-day stuff. But he’s played a lot of first-class cricket, he’s scored 14 first-class hundreds, he’s done it before. The year before he averaged 58 with three hundreds.
“He’s just come off an extraordinary series in India, where he was absolutely flying. He’s totally on top of his game and full of confidence. It’s been well-documented what he brings to the side as far as leadership, and he’s just a very sound individual. He’s a good fella, George. He’s a good player to have on your side and have around the group. But number one, he’s in exceptional form and playing beautifully.”