Man love for George Bailey

Just seen a very exciting and pretty remarkable 50 over series between Australia and India played out over there. In the end India just shaded Australia in a series of high scoring and close matches. Even the deciding match overnight was unexpectedly tight – Australia looked out of it with 4 wickets down early, and 8 down with another 170 runs adrift. It’s a testament to how the series has been played that we got a closer than you would believe.

I think it’s been an important series. One the one hand I think it’s re-vivified a format that has been struggling. I’m indifferent to Twenty 20 cricket, but it’s the popular format these days. One day international cricket has waned as a result, but this series was as good as you could for, and contained the dramatic elements not possible in Twenty 20 cricket. For fucks sake we saw a double century overnight.

I think it’s been pretty important for Australian cricket too. The Australian side has been led with great style and panache by the redoubtable George Bailey. I reckon he’d have to be just about the most popular cricketer in Australia, in the outer and on the field. He’s clearly an outstanding leader, and switched on tactically. He goes about his business with a ever-present smile. I’m sometimes dubious about sportsmen who perpetually smile. I wonder if they feel the pain of defeat; I don’t know that they ‘want it’ sufficiently. I don’t think that with Bailey. He’s a competitor, there’s no doubt about that. He’s also someone who gets on with the game. He’s got a broader perspective, and an understanding that there’s no value on dwelling on what might have been. The worst you’ll ever get from him is a rueful grin, and his post-match interviews are a study in optimistic outlook. He just seems one of those special people in life who have been gifted with human qualities far above the norm.

That’s as a leader. As a batsman this series he has been exhilarating to watch. He’s in the form of his life, and it looks likely it’ll lead him directly into the Australian test team. It should. I’ve joined the clamour for his elevation. I wanted him there for the Ashes in England. He has qualities that we’ve been deficient in – leadership, emotional intelligence, perspective, maturity, and a cool head. You figure he’s one of those players who might become more in the top-level than he is in the levels below. There are competitors like that in every sport who sem made to rise to the challenge. He would add a lot more to the test team than sheer batsmanship.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of man-love for George Bailey right now.

There are a few others that have caught my eye. Mitchell Johnson is back and firing. Then there’s Glen Maxwell. In some ways he seemed the opposite of Bailey in previous tours. Supremely gifted, he seemed immature and headstrong, prone to wild misjudgments when at the crease. He was one who frustrated me no end. This series he’s turned the corner I think. I reckon he’ll be a long-term test player before too long.

The other is James Faulkner. I’ve been spruiking him for years. I love his mongrel and attitude. He’s got talent too, especially in the shorter formats. He’s a canny bowler, and has always had ability with the bat. That’s really blossomed this series, culminating last night in the quickest ever ODI century by an Australian – 57 balls.

The team has been ultra competitive against a very good Indian side, and unlucky to lose the series. That’s despite, I think, this being a second string ODI team. Michael Clarke would clearly be in the best team, but injury has curtailed his involvement. I’m bewildered why David Warner wasn’t playing. In the domestic version played concurrently he hit 3 centuries for NSW.

I’m surprised that Phil Hughes was in the team. And disappointed in general with Finch, who belongs there, but rarely lives up to his promise. I think Voges is much too limited a batsman to be coming in down the order. And I think – and this is controversial – that McKay’s best is behind him. Too much to leg.

The first Ashes test starts short of 3 weeks. I think it will be a good contest, but on Australian pitches Oz will come out on top. I think the resurgence has begun.

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