George Bailey: The ultimate ODI batsman

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Australia return home this week with at least an ODI trophy to show along with a few scars from the Ashes, which can certainly be healed come November.

While the likes of Warner, Watson and Clarke have constantly appeared in the headlines, one of Australia’s underestimated cricketers continued to fly under the public image.

George Bailey may never have the privilege of wearing a baggy green, but in the shorter format of the game he has a record that deserves more accolades.

In the 4th ODI when Bailey hit a fine 87, he joined Greg Chappell as the fastest to reach 1000 runs in ODI cricket for Australia. With an average of 48, he is second only to Australia’s best ODI cricketer, Michael Bevan.

While his career is still young, having played 29 matches, importance of his innings cannot be taken for granted, especially given the lack of batting talent in Australia.

Bailey only has four single digit scores; add to it only one score under 20, the rest of his scores sit well in the scheme of ODI cricket, given that a partnership of 50 in the context of an ODI game can be compared to a 100 wicket stand in Test cricket.

As Roar expert Ryan O’Connell pointed out, his ODI series is on the rise and Bailey is Australia’s leading run scorer in ODI this year with 620 runs at 51.66 at strike rate of 90. His closest rival is Phil Hughes with 459 runs.

Bailey’s appetite for runs this year has him 10th on the runs scored in the calendar year but all the players above him are either openers or number three.

The feature of his batting is parallel with Bevan because he looks to rotate the strike with singles and twos instead of taking a risk of hitting a boundary.

Of all the run getters above him in the world, Bailey has hit the least boundaries (46) but his strike rate still ranks him 3rd. It is a further indication that Bailey has mastered the art of batting in the middle overs.

As expected, his average rockets to 64.37 and his strike rate is nearly a 100 when Australia has won. Even in a losing cause, the Tasmanian averages nearly 37; not bad considering he bats predominantly at number 5.

He has also managed to play in adverse conditions from the seaming wickets of England, dry wickets of West Indies and the bouncy wickets at home. Bailey faces his toughest challenge next month when he will need to tackle the spinning ball in Indian conditions, with the run rate required around the six an over mark.

Given his past record and the way he batted in the West Indies against the likes of Sunil Narine, he has a great chance of succeeding and maintaining his high standards.

Despite captaining the Australian ODI team, Bailey still has a reputation of a “fill in” player and perhaps we continue to judge him in this manner unless he fulfils the nation’s “Test batsman” requirement.

But perhaps, like Bevan, Bailey was never made to born to succeed in the longer format. At least in the ODI game, he has proved he has the capabilities to match it with the very best this country has produced.

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