Cricket Australia Items/news/2013/1/22/bailey-ready-to-step-up

Bailey ready to step up if needed

UPDATED 19 March, 2013 4:02PM AEST | by Stu Warren, Omnisport 21

With Michael Clarke in doubt for Wednesday's must-win clash against Sri Lanka in Hobart, George Bailey may lead Australia in his first international appearance on home soil.

Speaking after Clarke injured his ankle during a 'regulation fielding warm-up drill', Bailey said the star batsman had been sent for scans and would be given every opportunity to regain fitness ahead of the crunch match.

"He'll obviously be given right up until the toss tomorrow (Wednesday) to prove he's right to go… if he's 100 per cent, he'll play," Bailey said.

While the decision on Clarke's fitness will be delayed as long as possible, Bailey was unsure as to whether a specialist batsman would be called up on stand-by in case the skipper was eventually ruled out.

"No doubt the selectors will sort all that out, and Michael (Clarke) and Mickey (Arthur) will sort that out. Hopefully that scan comes back clear and best case scenario is "Pup' still plays."

Clarke's injury represents another unwelcome disruption for an Australian side that trails 2-1 in the five-match series and desperately needs a win to avoid a heavy series loss after the fourth match was washed out in Sydney on Sunday.

"It would be nice to salvage the series, escape with a two-all and get it back to level pegging,” Bailey said.

"There’s a lot on the line, not the way we’d like it. It would be nice to be down here playing for a series victory."

Batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell looms as the obvious replacement for Clarke with Bailey admitting that whoever came in would face a huge task.

"I think if you're replacing Michael Clarke with anyone it's a step down and that's no disrespect to whoever is going to replace him, or may need to replace him. He’s obviously an outstanding player."

"It's a challenge and hopefully guys step up into (it). That's what we're hoping and that's what we’ve lacked in the last couple of games, someone stepping up as an individual and even in batting partnerships."

Having won the series opener in impressive style by posting a huge total at the MCG, Australia's batting form has dropped away in the face of Sri Lanka’s impressive pace bowling, something the home side must remedy if it is to square the ledger in Hobart.

"Unfortunately we haven't played the cricket we'd like to be playing as consistently as we’d like," Bailey said.

"The one positive is we know we can bat as well as we did in Melbourne. The challenge is to get back there and to do it more often."

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

First Posted 22 January, 2013 7:10PM AEST

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