Australia have dropped George Bailey from their Test squad. It was always likely that the side would be eviscerated by the selectors after only just about managing to saunter to five massive wins over England. They’re basically in turmoil.
The replacement is none other than perennial Test yo-yo, Shaun Marsh, of whom Australia’s national selector, John Inverarity, said:
“We all know that when Shaun plays at his best, he’s a very good player.”
This is a pretty good synopsis of Marsh’s career. He does look good when he’s at his best. Whether you think he’s good or not largely depends on whether you consider ‘his best’ to be the norm or an occasional aberrative state. Plenty of Australians hope that a prolonged spell of ‘his best’ is just around the corner. They’ve been hoping for about a decade now, but it must be getting closer.
Marsh has forced his way back into the side through sheer weight of runs. Since he was dropped from the Test team a year ago, he’s made 675 first-class runs at 25.
One-day form may also have played a part in his recall. Short format runs are increasingly being seen as a strong indication of long format ability following the successful promotion of George Bailey to the Test team.
As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything. Although that would go some way towards explaining why he’s forever spearing balls down the leg side.
We find ourself conflicted about Johnson’s recall. He has looked like a proper fast bowler of late, which is a good thing. However, we don’t particularly want England to face a proper fast bowler. We’d far rather they faced the Johnson of old – a loping bag of meat hanging from a bad haircut with all the coordination of a puppet. That would mean denying the world a fast bowler though and there aren’t many of those knocking about these days.
George Bailey looks set to play in the first Test as well. His one-day form is magic. His first-class record is middling. It will be interesting to see whether there is some monumental flaw in his batting which might be exploited or whether his grown-up brain will get him through.
We haven’t really given much thought to Australia’s other five batting slots which means we can pitch Bailey v Warner as being a battle for the sixth one. They’ll almost certainly both play in the first Ashes Test, but let’s gloss over this so that we’ve got something to say today.
David Warner is the incumbent – albeit an incumbent who’s been dropped. Such is cricket. Warner played in Australia’s last Test, but has been dropped for one-day cricket, which is supposed to be what he’s good at. However, after skiving a club match to go to the races, he has since hit three hundreds in four innings, including 197 off 141 balls against Victoria. It’s all been in domestic one-day cricket, but it’s undeniably impressive.
But what of George Bailey? The other day we said that one-day form combined with not being a complete child is probably enough to warrant Bailey being selected in Australia’s Test team and we stand by that. After kicking off Australia’s short format tour of India with a duck (Rajkot, not Bombay), he’s hit 85 off 82 balls, 92 not out off 50 balls, 43 off 60 balls and 98 off 94 balls.
Different format, different conditions, but also different situations. Bailey appears to have the qualities that so many Aussie batsmen currently seem to lack – adaptability and the ability to respond to a given match situation. Plus he’s smart, outspoken and pleasingly non-corporate. We therefore conclude that Australia should pick Matt Weaver, who played three Ryobi Cup innings and scored a whole 10 runs.