Sport Cricket I’m not pretty, but I’m ready, George Bailey says
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I’m not pretty, but I’m ready, George Bailey says

George Bailey acknowledges he is not pretty to watch.
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George Bailey admits he’s “not pretty” to watch but he believes he is now an attractive Test prospect after learning to trust his own batting methods and ability.

Australia’s one-day captain Bailey arrived back from India on Monday with a mountain of ODI runs under his belt, ready to make another pitch for the Test No.6 spot in Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland starting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Bailey is the hot tip to claim the middle order spot for the Ashes series opener at the Gabba starting on November 21 after amassing a remarkable 478 runs at 95.6 in his team’s 3-2 series loss to India.

Among those to express their concern about one-day cricket as a launching pad for a Test spot is former Test skipper Ian Chappell. “A selector has to look past the number of runs (in India) and see the batsmanship,” Chappell wrote. He said Bailey was “restricted through the cover region, can be stifled by good spinners and is troubled by well-directed short-pitched bowling.”

But these days Bailey is not interested in what others say, only his toughest critic – himself. And the 31-year-old Tasmanian finally likes what he sees.

Asked if he felt he was ready to play Test cricket, Bailey said: “I feel like I am. “I feel I am playing as good cricket as I ever have and I am still continuing to try and get better.

“I am at an age where you know you are only going to get one crack at it. So you do it exactly the way you want to do it and I think there are some positives in that too.”

Bailey has at times struggled to fulfil his undoubted potential – he averaged 18 in Shield just last season – but has learned to block out the knockers. Chappell was the latest naysayer, claiming in a weekend newspaper column that Bailey’s batting technique was not Test worthy despite his glut of runs on the sub-continent.

“When you get to my age it’s making small changes just to make sure you are as sharp as you can be, more mentally than anything else,” Bailey said. “What I have got out of the last couple of series is a lot of confidence in the way I play, not worrying too much about external factors. That’s a nice way to be. I wish I had worked that out a lot earlier.”

Said Bailey: “I don’t think Ian has ever been a big fan of the way I play the game, so there’s no surprises there. He’s entitled to his opinion. To be honest, I don’t take that as personally as the people who say I should be in the team.”

After learning to turn the other cheek, Bailey is now finally happy in his own skin. “When I watch the TV and see Ricky Ponting or Michael Clarke bat, that to me is beautiful,” Bailey said. “When I watch myself bat it is not that pretty.

“But once you come to terms with that and make sure it is as good as it can be I don’t think anyone cares how it happens as long as you are making runs.” Even if it is on the wrong side of 30.

“I don’t understand the infatuation with age in sport. I think you should be judged on performances,” he said. “The Mike Husseys and the like have showed that age is no barrier. I think a lot of cricketers are playing their best cricket post-30.”

Bailey said he had not received any word from selectors ahead of the Shield clash at the small, batter-friendly Allan Border Field in Brisbane – and didn’t think he needed to. “I am here to score runs. It’s a pretty simple equation,” he said.

Less understanding of Chappell’s criticism was former opener Matthew Hayden, who said on Twitter that Chappell had made similar criticism of him when he was trying to break into the Test side.