George Bailey heading out of anonymity
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Australia's batsman George Bailey (R) is congratulated by teammate Mitchell Johnson (L) after scoring a century during the one-day international cricket match between Australia and the West Indies at the WACA ground in Perth on February 3, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Tony ASHBY
George Bailey is the 30-year-old batsman who has captained Australia in two forms of cricket, yet could probably walk down a crowded street unnoticed.
His ascension to the top job seemed to happen before anyone really knew who he was but after an unbeaten 125 that helped lift Australia out of a precarious position against the West Indies yesterday, is that all about to change?
Bailey is part of a generation of state cricketers who, outside of the Big Bash League, ply their trade in front of largely empty stadiums.
Their feats go unnoticed until suddenly they’re thrown an international cap. Bailey’s rise was stranger than most.
It’s not often, well never since the start of the game, that a player would make his international debut and be named captain at the same time.
It’s almost as if Bailey has had to go to extra lengths to justify his place in the Australian side since being handed his first cap and told to go and lead the team as well.
He has been seen as the poster boy for the B-team. It was an incredibly unfair tag, but one that seemed to stick.
Acceptance could only come through actions.
Any doubters left among the masses after yesterday’s century probably won’t ever be convinced of his credentials.
In Bailey’s 20 international matches he has scored four half centuries, two scores in the 40s, one century and just three single-figure scores.
He has also recorded five and a half thousand first class runs at a tick under 40.
In Bailey’s first full season as captain of Tasmania he led them to the domestic one-day title and scored 538 runs at an average of 59.77.
In the Sheffield Shield last year he scored 697 runs at an average of 58.08.
This year his return hasn’t been as profitable.
In four Sheffield Shield matches he has scored 169 runs at an average of 28.16 while racking up 196 runs in 5 domestic one-dayers at 39.20.
It makes for a man who should be far from anonymous.
Yet Bailey didn’t make the 17-man squad to travel to India with selectors banking on Steve Smith to act as a back-up batsman.
You can’t help but feel they’ve left themselves an experienced batsman short.
The chance to be that man on the subcontinent has passed for Bailey, but the rest of the Sheffield Shield season now shapes as a chance to make a statement ahead of the Ashes.
Yesterday, he came to the crease with Australia at 2/25 and when he left the hosts had 266 runs on the board.
It was a breakthrough knock that should’ve got the selectors thinking.
Here is a man with a sound technique who has consistently scored runs at international level.
Is it time he was given the chance to swap the coloured clothes for the whites?
We could do a lot worse.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.