As George Bailey prepares to make his test debut for Australia against England in the first Ashes cricket test at Brisbane on Thursday, he has sought the advice of a man whose experience he hopes to understand if not emulate.
Last year, batsman Rob Quiney found himself propelled into the position Bailey now occupies. He was handed a test debut against South Africa at Brisbane’s Gabba ground at the age of 30 and, after making nine in his only innings in the first test and a pair of ducks at Adelaide in the second, his test career was summarily ended.
Bailey, who will make his test debut at 31, has the advantage over Quiney in that he is already established in international cricket as Australia’s occasional one-day captain, a veteran of 35 one-day and 19 Twenty20 internationals.
But, without wallowing in another’s misfortune, Bailey hoped to understand the perils and pitfalls of test cricket as only Quiney could explain them. With that knowledge, he hopes to be forearmed for the challenge that awaits him.
“That was one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to Bobby (Quiney), to see how his perspective was and see how he felt about his couple of tests,” said Bailey, “how he dealt with the pressure and expectations.
“He’s a good man to talk to, such a terrific bloke and down to earth, (but) it was a big adjustment.
“The main message from him was to make sure you enjoy it, which is the main message that past players have drilled into me. Sometimes in these situations you have to remind yourself of that because there’s a lot going on.”
Bailey is likely to bat at No. 6 in Brisbane and said he is contending with mixed emotions as his debut approaches.
“(It’s) mostly excitement at this stage,” he said. “I hope the nerves will kick in as we get closer to the game but (there’s) a lot of excitement.
“Having been around this side for a little bit I know what it’s like but I think this build-up is going to be completely different so there’s a sense of anticipation there and I’m not really sure what it’s all going to be like.”
Meanwhile, England’s Australian-born bowling coach David Saker has hinted that Chris Tremlett may be favoured to take the third seamer’s role behind James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the Brisbane test.
Tremlett was rested for England’s final, four-day warm-up match against an Invitation XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground but Saker said the experienced paceman, who took 17 wickets at 23 during the 2010-11 Ashes series in Australia, has been working well in the nets.
Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin were offered chances in the match at the SCG to press their claims for the third role. Finn took eight wickets in the match but Saker said the tall right armer was still “a work in progress.”
“I think we’re pretty clear in our minds where we’re going to go,” Saker said. “I’m not going to announce who’s going to play but we’re confident where we are ... I know that the guys we’ve got in this group are good enough and we’re prepared and we’re ready for this challenge.
“In the last week I’ve seen a big change for Chris Tremlett, so that was a real pleasing thing for us. We did have two or three really good sessions in Sydney. We had a good chat about some certain things. The nets were fantastic batting surfaces and he came out of that really well and I think he gained a lot of confidence in where he was.”
Saker also expects wicketkeeper Matt Prior to be fit to play in Brisbane after recovering from a calf injury.
“He’s making good progress up to now,” he said. “Obviously we’d love him on the park on Thursday. He’s got a few days to get that right. I’m confident he’ll be right but that’s for the medical department.”