THE BIG PICTURE: Bailey sacking hard to fathom

WHATEVER happen to the days when it was harder to get out of the Australian cricket team than it ever was to break into it?

Incumbency - ever heard of it?

And if ever there was a time to apply said-incumbency rule, then surely it’s after a 5-nil shellacking of the motherland in an Ashes series.

Apparently it’s not though.

The Cricket Australia merry-go-round was in full rotation mode yesterday when national chief of selectors John Inverarity left George Bailey’s name off the team list set to depart for South Africa on January 29.

How can anyone be dumped after a 5-nil series win. Seriously, John?

I’m preparing myself to be bombarded from those cricketing pundits who’ll claim Bailey has a phobia of the red ball and his long-form cricket record didn’t warrant a call-up in the first place, but Bailey’s debut and the form reversal by the Australian side is no coincidence.

The bloke’s a natural born leader.

Someone skipper Michael Clarke lent on throughout the vigour of the five-Test series. 

Someone who the entire dressing room enjoyed having around.

Can you put a price, or in this case a quantity of runs, on just what that means to the Australian team? To some of the younger players feeling their way into international cricket?

All the Kumbaya-singing aside, was Bailey’s form with the bat really deserved of the plank?

He hit 53 in Adelaide, smashed 39 before being declared on in Perth and then made 46 against the Poms in Sydney.

In all, Bailey hit 183 runs at a clip over 26.

He also took 10 catches.

Sure, he didn’t hit the weight of runs someone like Warner or Hadden did, but as I said, Bailey’s contribution, that of the Australian One Day International vice captain, goes deeper than runs out in the middle.

His replacements in the South Africa-bound squad, Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh, present strong four-day cricket form.  What will that mean come time to bear the baggy green?

In Marsh’s last foray into Test cricket, his last eight innings - the same amount Bailey has had at Test cricket - netted the left-hander 65 runs.

In all, Marsh has 301 Test runs at a clip over 27.

Doolan is the unknown, yet to play a Test match.

So is any of that any more impressive than what Bailey brings to the table?

Is eight innings enough to find out just what Bailey can deliver?

At the press conference unveiling the squad yesterday, Inverarity labelled Bailey’s contribution to the historic Ashes series win as “significant” and “integral” to the 5-nil result.

I can’t fathom why that isn’t enough to at least earn Bailey a plane ticket.

I’ll find one positive out of the whole circus, though. Phil Hughes is still girt by sea with the rest of us, exactly the way it should be.

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