Sometimes it’s tough to be a bear. With the selection of George Bailey as Twenty20 captain of Australia, the selectors have thrown more than a few red herrings.
Bailey has long been seen as a potential leader at international level, however his performances with the bat have stifled these ambitions.
He is a batsman not unlike his predecessor Cameron White, a batter more than a batsman, and so it’s been deemed he is to be the rarest bird among the history of cricket, an Australian captain on debut.
No one can deny White has been out of form since the moment he set foot in the subcontinent for the 2011 Cricket World Cup, and the hole he has dug for himself in the KFC T20 Big Bash League was at times painful to watch, the length of innings dulling the pain to an extent.
No one doubts White’s ability as a leader of men and a cricket tactician.
In my opinion, Victoria appointing him captain as a precocious 21-year old, while an extraordinary honour, stunted his development as a cricketer.
Cameron White at the time was a promising leg-spinner who could also take a game away from an opposition with a swashbuckling innings at 7 or 8.
It was when he became captain that every long hop became a sin, and so hard on his bowling was he, he barely bowled himself at all, Victoria bringing in veteran spinners like Colin Miller and John Davison to take the first spinner role.
Like any intelligent leader of men, White no doubt saw developing his promising leg spin as an indulgence, yet another reason why giving the captaincy to players still learning their game can be so fraught with peril.
White became a batsman for Victoria, but made his early impact as an international cricketer with the ball.
Playing as the infamously now defunct ‘supersub’ in the infamously now defunct ‘ICC World XI’ tour, White was barely given an opportunity as a mighty Australian side ran through a woeful team of superstars more concerned with the conditions trackside at Randwick than their inability to breathe life into a flawed concept.
White was given a brief run of games in New Zealand before being turfed for two years.
In this time, White began to occupy crucial batting positions in an already dominant Victorian side, and developed his batting to a point where by 2007 he was in the Australian ODI side more often than not.
Unfortunately for White, he was still batting in the lower middle order behind the lofty likes of Ponting, Clarke, Symonds and Hussey.
It’s here he has accumulated most of his games for the national side in coloured clothing.
Amazingly for a man who was once touted as Shane Warne’s successor as first choice spinner for Australia, Cameron White didn’t bowl for Australia from August 2008, until, in what might prove to be his last game for Australia, April 2011 against Banlgadesh.
Through all this, it’s difficult to believe that White is just 28 years old.
A year younger than his successor George Bailey and Ed Cowan, whom the media has anointed, along with former T20 specialist David Warner, the future of the Australia Test team.
He is also just a year older than New South Wales’s Steve O’Keefe, who is talked about as one of the young guns in Australian cricket and an unlucky omission from the squad for Brad Hogg, the hugely in-form 40 year-old former postman from Western Australia.
Time is still undoubtedly on White’s side, but if his chosen form of the game is T20, a game tailor made for fast, fit young men with short attention spans and tempers, how open is the door the 28 year-old Gippslander whose nickname derives from the mascot of a once-ironically ubiquitous domestic rum?
Only time, once Cameron White’s greatest ally, will tell.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia