Lessons learned from amazing highs and lows
Australia T20 captain George Bailey's emotional summer insists he doesn't need a Test recall to be satisfied with his own game, and right now, he doesn't even necessarily want one.
Bailey experienced an unforgettable few months with the Australian side across all three formats.
First came an avalanche of runs in India through the seven-match ODI series, his 478 at an average of 95.60 the most ever scored by a captain in a bilateral series.
His feats on the Subcontinent led to a Test debut at the Gabba for the Ashes opener in November, and while he failed to set the world alight throughout the five matches, he will forever hold a place as part of the 'Unchangeables' side that stormed through the home summer to whitewash England.
In the middle of it, Bailey snatched a personal piece of history as well - taking England's James Anderson for 28 in a single over to equal Brian Lara's mark for the most runs in a Test over. He almost replicated in the final T20 of the summer, his blazing 26 from one Jade Dernbach over drawing comparisons with the world record Test effort of a month earlier.
Then came two more series wins over England - 4-1 in the ODIs and three-nil in the T20s - while he was also recognised as Australia's ODI Player of the Year at the Allan Border Medal night in January.
The lowlight came around the same time however, as the 31-year-old learned of his exclusion from the South Africa Test touring party.
“There might be (a recall) but hopefully not,” Bailey told Hobart's The Mercury newspaper. “Hopefully Alex Doolan, Steve Smith and those guys knuckle down.
“For most players it is about being as good as they can be. That’s where I feel invigorated – that I can still see improvement in my game.
“It is comfortably the best summer of cricket I’ve ever had. I absolutely loved it, it is quite exciting to get to 31 and get to the end of a summer and have so much to look forward to and so much to work on.
“There were some fantastic opportunities and some good performances. Overwhelmingly it has just been unreal, I couldn’t have dreamt of anything better.”
“Whether that leads me … back to a Test spot, that is not the goal really. That would be great, but whether that happens or not won’t be the deciding factor for me whether I feel I’ve been successful or not.”
Bailey rejected any suggestion he was at any point overawed, with the Tasmanian comfortable he handled himself to the best of his ability throughout a high-pressure Ashes campaign.
“I think it wears you down as much as you let it,” he said. “I made a conscious effort not to read too much stuff, just try and focus on what I do best.
“My goal was always to play Test cricket, so in terms of making my debut of playing for Australia in one-day cricket and T20 cricket, that was great, but I always felt they were stepping stones to where I wanted to get to.
“Debuting in Test cricket was the pinnacle, so my expectations were as high as they have ever been and the pressure I put on myself was as high as it ever has been.
“I like to think I dealt with that OK, I don’t think there was an innings where the pressure got to me in terms of me coming off and thinking what would I have done differently.”
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 04 March, 2014 2:29PM AEST