Champions Trophy 2013: Australia turn to unknown George Bailey against England as Michael Clarke’s back gives in

 

Australia unveiled their captain for the opening match and probably the whole of the Champions Trophy yesterday. The name of George Bailey was hitherto more widely known as the everyday hero at the end of his tether played by James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life.

A guardian angel changed everything for him and Bailey may feel, as he takes over from the injured Michael Clarke against England today, that he needs similar assistance. Bailey is an affable chap, born in the same Tasmanian town as Ricky Ponting, who did not play international cricket until he was  nearly 30.

He has played in only 21 one-day internationals, a mere soupçon. But here he is, now, presented with the task of launching his tottering side’s crusade in a competition that they have won twice in succession and in the first of 26 matches that they will play in the next nine months against their oldest rivals.

It is a big deal for player and country though Bailey tried to make light of it yesterday. The likelihood is with Clarke’s back still giving him pain, that he will lead the team for the whole event.

Australia will take no risks with Clarke now. The unimaginable scenario is to rush him back in the next few days only to provoke a relapse which would jeopardise his place in the Ashes series starting next month.

They seem confident that Clarke will be fit given the appropriate treatment and rest. However, it is a condition that has plagued his career and it may be recurring more frequently. Clarke was forced to miss the final Test against India in Delhi in March.

Bailey, who has led Australia three times before in ODIs, said: “I’m not under any more pressure than any other captain. First and foremost, my role is to score runs in that middle order for us.

“If I can do that, we have enough guys and our players have played enough cricket to know the basics of the game. I’m not going to do anything as a captain that’s going to revolutionise the game. It’s pretty basic stuff that we’ve got to do well and do better than the other seven [teams].”

In the cauldron of a one-dayer with the stakes high and the margins narrow he may come to rue that. He will certainly have to make key tactical amendments at some point in the match and persuade the rest that they can win without Clarke, as well as overcoming their wretched form of their final warm-up match when India bowled them out for 65.

Bailey said: “Honestly, I reckon all sides are believing they can win the tournament. We’re no different from anyone else over the last 12 months. I think the biggest difference has been our consistency of performance. 

“Our best is still as good as anyone else or any other teams in the world.  If we play our best cricket, I’ve got no doubt we can win the tournament. But the issue has been that the gap between our best and our worst performances has probably grown.”

As for laying down a marker for what is to come, Bailey was in two minds. This may be a significant match by itself but it is also the  precursor to an unprecedented sequence.

“It’s an interesting one,” Bailey said. “I think for this tournament it’s huge. I think it’s such an important tournament so to start well with first blood is big. I’m sure the team that wins would like to think that that takes a little momentum forward. But the effect is that it will come in over such a long period, there are so many games of cricket that I can’t see it having a big bearing on how the rest of the summer goes.” But nobody wants to lose yet.

Trophy details

* Results so far

Group B India beat South Africa by 26 runs. West Indies beat Pakistan by two wickets

* Fixtures (10.30am unless stated)

Saturday (Group A) England v Australia, Edgbaston

Sunday (A) New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Cardiff

Monday (B) Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (1pm)

Tuesday (B) India v West Indies,  The Oval

Wednesday (A) Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston

Thursday (A) England v Sri Lanka, The Oval (1pm)

Friday (B) South Africa v West Indies, Cardiff

15 June (B) India v Pakistan, Edgbaston

16 June (A) England v New Zealand, Cardiff

17 June (A) Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval (1pm)

Semi-finals:

19 June Winner Group A v runner-up Group B, The Oval

20 June Winner Group B v runner-up Group A, Cardiff

Final:

23 June Edgbaston

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high