The Ashes 2013-14: 'I’ll only get one crack at it at 31, so I’ll just be myself,' says George Bailey

Australian batsman looking forward to his Test debut

For George Bailey, it really is a wonderful life at present. If it is the obvious line after the hero of the classic movie, it is also the appropriate one.

Almost two years after being plucked from state obscurity to captain Australia’s Twenty20 team, Bailey has been chosen to make his Test debut in the Ashes series at the age of 31. It used to be the time when many Australian batsmen retired, rather than start their international careers.

It is a hugely popular selection, for Bailey is a hugely popular man. He has already been entrusted with the captaincy of the 50-over side in Michael Clarke’s absence and impressed all with his calmness and instinctive leadership qualities.

Bailey has also scored a dunny full of limited-overs runs, 478 of them in six innings on the recent tour of India, but whether he can cut it in the longest form of the game is a question few are prepared to answer unequivocally. He has scored heavily in the Sheffield Shield, but not lately: the most recent of his 13 hundreds was in February last year. 

“It’s been a bit of a weird week, it’s felt a bit surreal,” said Bailey, who like Ricky Ponting was born and raised in Launceston, Tasmania. “But I’m looking forward to getting together with everyone up here and I guess it’ll really sink in when we get into everything tomorrow.     

“It’s mostly excitement at this stage: I hope the nerves will kick in as we get closer to the game, but a lot of excitement. Having been around this side for a little bit, I know what it’s like, but I think this build-up is going to be completely different so there’s a sense of anticipation there and I’m not really sure what it’s all going to be like.”

Bailey is likeable, smart, genial and invariably generous in his assessment of others. He would probably be played by James Stewart (who was the other George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life).  He has waited a long time for this opportunity and there will be no second chance, no recall to the baggy green if it goes wrong. If Australia had not lost so often lately he might never have made it this far.

Being the chap he is, he has asked plenty of fellow cricketers what it is like playing Test cricket for the first time. He was reminded that he should remember to enjoy it.

“I’m not sure being older makes it easier but I think having played the other formats in terms of crowd build-up, media stuff, that will be a little bit easier to handle,” he said. “The advantage of being 31... I only get one crack at it, so I’ll go out there, I’ll be me. I’ll play the way I play and I won’t go out trying to be anything but myself. And that’s a good thing.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us