Cricket Australia

http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/Blogs/justin-langer/2013/9/11/george-the-leader

Justin Langer


George the leader

11 September 2013 42

George Bailey has been one of the shining lights of Australia's one-day team for the last 18 months.

Not only have his runs in the middle order been valuable but his contributions as a leader cannot be underestimated.

He is exactly the type of person captain Michael Clarke needs around him if he is to successfully turn around the fortunes of this Australian cricket team. 

The skipper needs right and left hand men who he can trust both on and off the cricket field.

It struck me the other night when the two were batting together, how good teams, and good partnerships can work. 

Michael Clarke was batting well when he was joined at the crease by George Bailey.  What most interested me was how George summed up the situation and then used his experience and skill to take the pressure of his captain. 

He knew that Pup could anchor the innings and bat in his masterly fashion if he wasn't feeling any scoring pressure at the other end.  To nullify this, Bailey batted with freedom and aggression to allow his partner to play with similar autonomy  .

This thinking and strategy is exactly how good partnerships operate. 

And frankly, there needs to be a lot more of it from our batsmen if we are to enjoy more team success in the future.

In every team meeting, whether it be with an international team or a grade team on the weekend, you can be sure that one of the things always talked about is building partnerships.  Like most things in life the words are the simple part of the equation.  What is more difficult, is transferring the words and good intentions into actions.

The Clarke and Bailey partnership at Old Trafford should be a timely reminder to their team mates how it is done, and also, why partnerships are important to a match winning formula.

Partnerships are built around trust and understanding of your team mate and mates.

George Bailey is a person who the captain can, and should, trust. 

During his tenure as the captain of Tasmania, George has been instrumental in the success story that has been Tasmanian cricket over the last five to 10 years.

With coach Tim Coyle, it seems as though the culture of Tasmanian cricket is a shining light within our domestic system. 

This can be judged, not only on the vibe and anecdotes, but also in their results. 

As a team they are the current Sheffield Shield champions and it is no wonder players like Ben Hilfenhaus, Xavier Doherty, Ed Cowan, Jackson Bird, Tim Paine and most recently James Faulkner and Jordan Silk are achieving, or vying for, higher honours. 

It is also no surprise to see the current batting and bowling coaches with the Australian team, Alistair de Winter and Michael Di Venuto, coming through the Tasmanian system.

If Ricky Ponting would cut his left arm off to play for his State with the same passion as he did every time he pulled on the Baggy Green cap, then there is obviously something special happening under George Bailey's leadership style.

The way Tasmania play is indicative of the Bailey style.  They are competitive, loyal to each other, hardworking and good humoured. 

Most pleasing is that Bailey has grabbed his opportunities with the bat and is now settled and confident in the middle order of the Australian ODI team.  The way he straight drove the ball for six on Sunday night is a sign of his growing confidence within himself. 

For most sportsmen the greatest obstacle is self-belief.  For Australian cricket's sake we can only hope that George Bailey is feeling more and more comfortable in his own skin as an Australian cricketer.

If Michael Clarke can have him and players like Adam Voges, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson all feeling a part of the team then he will be building a strong leadership group, who can help make the captain's job a great deal easier.

In those four players there is enough experience and respect from their younger team mates to help work with Michael Clarke to drive the ship forward.  For too long now the Australian team in all forms of the game has been stagnant because they have been dragged along by the captain trying to do it all himself.

It has looked like a one man show who is dragging a group of players through the soft sand with a long tug of war rope. 

This type of leadership is unsustainable.

What is easier is if five or six players are working together to pull the others along with them.  By building the trust amongst the senior players, it won't be long before no one is being dragged through the soft sand, but rather, they will be working as one, to get the job done together. 

This is how great teams work and for the first time in a long while, I saw a glimmer of hope when two of the leaders in Clarke and Bailey were aggressively taking it to England, while maintaining a touch of humility in their work. 

It was an inspiring display of leadership, not by one, but two of the men who are in charge of Australia's resurgence. I hope it can be a building block for the remainder of this series in India and then the ODI series in India before next summer’s Ashes.

JL

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.


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