IF GEORGE Bailey is squeezed out of the Australian Test team for Tasmanian teammate James Faulkner for today's final Test against England, any pain will be dulled by the fact one of his good friends will be his replacement.
That's the belief of Bailey's father John, a former batting coach at Launceston Church Grammar School, who worked with both players.
Mr Bailey yesterday said he believed George would prefer to see Faulkner in the team than "any other all-rounder" in the country.
Mr Bailey will be at the SCG today, the fourth Test he has attended this summer, and theoretically could get the chance to watch a Test with his son after missing out on watching Australia's Boxing Day win with George due to his involvement in the game.
Not for the first time this series, selectors are toying with the idea of replacing 31-year-old Bailey, who has averaged just 27.20 in the series and is the only member of the top seven not to score a century, with left- arm, fast-medium all- rounder Faulkner to give the bowling attack another option.
A seam-friendly SCG wicket has seemingly pushed the odds in the favour of 23-year-old Faulkner getting his second chance in the baggy green, but former Tasmanian coach Tim Coyle believed selectors will stick with the same batting formula that has seen it take a 4-0 lead against England.
"I think they'd be reluctant to go with just five specialist batsmen," Coyle said yesterday.
"James has been 12th man for a while now, and that is an indication of how close he is, and I'm sure if one of the bowlers were left out or injured, he'll get an opportunity then, but I think they would go in with six batsmen.
"George has said it himself that he'd like to score a 100, and he knows that would take a bit of pressure off, and the elevation to first-class cricket to Test cricket is not an easy one. "Hopefully they will play him at No.6 again, he'll post a big number and feel very much at home again."
Faulkner's father and former Tasmanian selector Peter was yesterday confident James would have an impact if he got a chance.
"If players are trying to attack against James, and he's attacking with his bowling he's always a chance to take wickets, but if it is just a normal Test match, he's quite capable of holding his own," Mr Faulkner said.
"But if it gets going and it all goes up a notch, that's the type of cricket he likes to play."
The final make-up of the team will be announced just before the toss this morning.
Bailey and Faulkner, who played NTCA cricket for South Launceston and Launceston respectively, have been joined by fellow NTCA graduate Alex Doolan in the squad this week, who will make his Test debut if No.3 Shane Watson is declared unfit.
Coyle was confident that Doolan would acquit himself well at the level if he got what now seems an unlikely opportunity.