Australian stand-in captain George Bailey has dismissed suggestions he will be treating the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka as part of a dress rehearsal for the Test series against India beginning on the subcontinent next month.
The retirement of Mike Hussey has opened up a space in Australia's middle order, with Bailey's name being mentioned as a potential candidate to fill the void for the four-match series, along with the likes of Usman Khawaja, Alex Doolan, David Hussey and Rob Quiney.
But Bailey insisted the tour of India would be far from the forefront of his mind when he takes part in the five-match series against Sri Lanka, which begins on Friday in Melbourne, and that his primary focus will be on scoring runs.
"I'm aware there's an opportunity there, I don't think anything's a dress rehearsal, I don't know how many games I'll get to play for Australia," Bailey said after training at the MCG on Thursday.
"And I'm sure all the guys are the same, they're going to be out there to do their best and I'm not sure there'll be many blokes out there tomorrow thinking too much about the Indian tour.
"I think it's going to be challenging enough and (there'll be) enough on our plates to try and win this series let alone worry about that.
"I think it's a really simple equation for the batting group and that's to score runs and be in good form for as long as you can to prove you're a match-winner, to play spin well and those opportunities, if you do all those things, will certainly emerge."
Australia have named a revamped 13-man ODI squad for the first two one-dayers against Sri Lanka which included four untried 50-over players - three of whom (Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja) will fill the hosts' top three batting slots in the series opener.
The move was designed to rest the country's more senior players, who were either battling niggling injuries or needed a rest, and Bailey said it would provide many of Australia's fringe players the perfect chance to prove their wares for this year's highly-anticipated tours of India and England.
"There's opportunities for a lot of the guys in the side, the newer members of the side, to push for a claim on that India tour," Bailey said.
"There's a lot of one-day cricket and obviously some big Test tours coming up as well going forward and there's some holes that have been left in that Australian side."
Meanwhile, Bailey believes top-drawer television coverage has played a major role in dwindling ODI crowds in Australia.
Like in most parts of the world, the popularity of one-dayers in Australia has steadily declined in the past decade but the 30-year-old maintains fans have fewer reasons than ever before to leave their living rooms to watch 50-over cricket.
"I think the way that sport is shown on TV now is so good, and you get so much information thrown at you that the better it gets delivered to the couch, the less reasons there are to leave and watch it at a ground," Bailey said.
Bailey hopes new rule changes for ODIs, such as allowing bowlers two bouncers an over instead of one and doing away with the fielding powerplay rule, will enhance the one-day game's appeal to the masses.
"I think they're interesting rule changes, I think anything where people who are watching the game or watching on TV are not sure what's going to happen, anything that provides a little bit of uncertainty, even to make captains or teams think on their feet a little bit more, are good changes for the game," he said.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 10 January, 2013 7:38PM AEST