)As Michael Clarke’s Test squad settles in South Africa ahead of its much-discussed crusade to return Australia to the No.1 Test ranking, T20 captain George Bailey has dismissed altogether the importance of the ICC Rankings system in the game’s shortest format.
Speaking after Australia’s thumping 84-run win over England in Sydney in the final KFC T20 International, Bailey poured cold water on the previously discussed ambition of returning Australia to the No.1 ranking in all three formats of the game, logically suggesting that a World Cup victory in Bangladesh is the true holy grail for the T20 side.
“To be perfectly honest, and I think Pat Howard would say the same thing, I just don’t think the rankings matter,” Bailey told reporters.
“I think, T20, you win the World Cup, that’s what counts – that’s the only thing that counts.”
Australia, currently ranked sixth in the ICC T20 Rankings, are yet to win the World T20, but the resounding nature of the side’s three-nil success over England, and the absence of a number of star players from the squad, has Bailey confident in the potential of his playing group.
“I’m really happy with (the squad). One of the really pleasing things from this tour has been our versatility – we’re just starting to see so many options with bat and ball … just starting to have those extra spin options, (it was) nice to see Cameron White roll a few overs out, I don’t think we ended up using (Aaron) Finch but he can do that as well.
“I was really pleased with James Muirhead again tonight. He wanted mid on and mid off up – he’s just so confident in what he does, and I thought (he bowled) a really smart ball to get rid of (Tim) Bresnan. (It was) good to see him turning the ball the way he is.
“I thought Dan Christian, with his little off-cutters and what he brings to the team (were) all really pleasing things to see.
“(It was) great to see Mitchell Starc back – I thought he’s bowled really well these last couple of games. We were probably expecting him to be a little bit rusty and wondering how he was going to be heading into South Africa and heading into the World Cup, but it looks like he’s ready to go straight up.”
The quality of performances from a crop of players yet to cement their place in Australia’s full-strength T20 side, and the fact that the likes of David Warner, Shane Watson and James Faulkner could all return for the World Cup, gives Bailey and the selectors a pleasant selection headache ahead of the Twenty20 series in South Africa.
Asked if there would be some unlucky players missing out on the 15-man squad, Bailey replied: “Yep, and you would hope that would be the case”.
“Any time it’s easy to pick 15, that’s probably not a great omen for what’s to come.
“There’s certainly a few (players) in South Africa that you’d have in that team.”
On the subject of Australia’s T20 ranking, Bailey cited scheduling, a lack of continuity, and regularly playing understrength XIs possible reasons for the lowly position.
“It’s a challenge for every team. Sometimes you can’t even remember who played in the last team, or how you went, (or) where it was. I think we played four last year for the entire year, so that’s tough.
“And it does quite often come at the back of a series, or there’s a series coming up.
“We haven’t played our strongest T20 side since the last World Cup.”