Questions have been raised about the timing and relevance of Australia’s limited overs series in India. However, skipper George Bailey dismissed any comments questioning the scheduling of the series on Monday, putting the matches in perspective.
For Bailey, who will lead the side in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke, and coach Steve Rixon, Australia will find motivation in the fact that if they win the series, it will go a long way to improve the ODI side in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup which Australia co-host with New Zealand.
“We have got some guys here who have been in the Ashes side and some guys who will be pushing for the Ashes side. To be honest, Ashes is still a month away. Eight games here is a long way to go. As far as this tournament is concerned, the focus is on the preparation for the 2015 World Cup in mind,” Bailey said.
The big question being asked is whether Australia can challenge the mighty India on their home turf. However, the visitors, whose tour has been questioned with the return Ashes series looming, believe their players will look to win the series convincingly as it will help Australia snatch the No 1 ODI ranking from India.
“If you look at it, it is not just a tournament but a chance to be number 1 in the world in one of the three formats,” Rixon said at the team’s first media conference. “So, it is very important to the players, the coaching staff and Cricket Australia. At the end of the day, we want to sit back, and want to be part of the number one side.”
Australia will look to cash in on every factor that will be in their favour. One of them will be the familiarity bred by the major presence of Australia players in the Indian Premier League and their playing with and against India cricketers.
“We do know a few players and that certainly is one of the great things about the IPL, over the years. We have played at a lot of grounds that we are about to play in,” added Bailey. “We know a lot about their strengths and weaknesses, so there is absolutely some advantage for both the teams but also some areas to try and exploit,” said Bailey, who played for CSK under India captain MS Dhoni, in CLT20.
The one common reason for friction between the teams down the years has been sledging. But it could be a quiet affair this time if Bailey is to be believed. Players in the new-look Australia side are “very polite”, said Bailey. “We no longer have star players like we did previously. We do not rely on one or two players. If we intend to play good one-day cricket, if we win this series, we will need all 13 or 14 of us to play really well. In that sense this side is a lot different from the previous sides that have come to India.”
Bailey has brushed aside criticism by Ian Chappell about the series being ill-timed as it is being held just before the Ashes. Bailey said Chappell’s comments do not have any relevance.
“I don’t think his comments have any bearing on the team. I do not think he has been involved with the Australia team for a very long time. Not sure if his comments have any particular relevance to this series.”