Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia stand-in captain George Bailey has admitted that South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis definitely poses a threat to his side ahead of the ODI tri-series final in Harare.
Du Plessis has been in sublime form as of late, scoring three centuries in his last four ODIs.
“When he’s batting as well as he is, he doesn’t give you that many clues as to how to get him out,” Bailey said. “He is obviously in wonderful nick. We’ve got a couple of ways we hope we can try to contain him and, like anyone starting an innings, there’s always a chance to be dismissed. I guess the old cricket adage is that he’s due to miss out isn’t he? So hopefully that comes true.”
However, Australia’s aim of getting du Plessis out early on could be harder than first anticipated since both teams will be playing on a fresh pitch that hasn’t been used in any of the six games of the series.
“It is a new pitch, it’s an interesting looking pitch and I’ve never been particularly good at judging them at the best of times,” Bailey said. “But that one sort of looks like a little bit of everything. It looks like it might seam a little bit, it looks like it might spin a little bit, and it looks like there might be a few runs in it. So I’m going to have to ask somebody else, because I’ve really got no idea.
“What the groundsmen have told us is that as you get closer to the center, the wickets do get quicker and bounce a little more, but the groundsman was very vague when I asked him about what he thought it was going to do, so really not sure. I can’t imagine it would be any different to what we’ve had throughout the series.”
Bailey also noted that he was pleased to see how well all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, pace bowler Kane Richardson and opening batsman Phillip Hughes have been doing in this series. He added that the Baggy Greens now have plenty of options when it comes to selecting the World Cup squad.
“It’s been great to see the development and a couple more games for guys like Mitch Marsh and Kane Richardson. It’s good to see Phil Hughes back in the side,” Bailey said. “I think Steven Smith has looked good in different roles within the team as well. There are some young guys coming through and stepping up in some challenging conditions, which is always great to learn from and to adapt to. In some ways, it’s a little bit like the subcontinent in some of the challenges you face in terms of the spin and whatnot, so that’s always good to learn from.”
Following this series, Australia will be preparing for their tour of the United Arab Emirates, where they will play Pakistan next month. However, it remains to be seen whether they depart Australia with a full-strength squad since captain Michael Clarke is struggling with a hamstring injury and all-rounder Shane Watson is recovering from an ankle injury.
If Clarke and Watson are ruled out, it will be a major blow to their chances of emerging victorious since they are already without the services of pace bowler Ryan Harris, who is recovering from knee surgery, and batsman Shaun Marsh, who is recuperating from elbow surgery.
“The UAE is really interesting. Depending on the time of year I think you can get quite different wickets,” Bailey said. “Certainly the last time we were there they were reasonably good batting wickets with a little bit of spin, and dew was a really important factor.
“It was really challenging to overcome. It’s almost like you’d played after a monsoon or something, the grass was that wet on the outfield. And then during the IPL, playing games in the UAE, the ball tended to do a little bit, but once again a really nice batting wicket. So I’m not really sure what to expect there.
“But one of the great things about playing in different parts of the world, is that challenge of having to adapt really quickly to conditions. The pleasing thing from the loss to Zimbabwe to the game against South Africa, was what we learnt from that game and how we were able to put those things that we talked about putting into place for the next game. Ideally in a final you want to go that one step further and play your best game of the tournament.”