GEORGE Bailey has opened up about his role as Australia’s stand-by captain following another substitution of the injury-plagued Michael Clarke.
The Longford lad last night led his country for the 15th time in just 41 ODI outings and is closing in on Adam Gilchrist’s mark (17) as the eighth-most capped Australian skipper in the one-day format.
Speaking ahead of the tri-series encounter with South Africa in Harare, the 31-year-old said he was happy to play the fill-in role for the team after a hamstring injury ruled out Clarke.
‘‘It’s important for our cricket, because I think there was a period there – perhaps not so much in one-day cricket – where we relied really heavily on his batting,’’ Bailey said on Cricket Australia’s website.
‘‘So any time that we can perform really well without him in the team I think it bodes well because we know how strong we’re going to be when he does get right and he comes back in.
‘‘So that’s a really positive thing for us.
‘‘At the moment, it feels like it’s a group that has a lot of options – with the batting line-up, with the ball, where blokes field, it just feels like there’s a lot of guys putting their hand up for different things at different times.
‘‘Obviously having Pup [Clarke] still here [on tour] makes my job easier, and I think when he goes out it becomes a group collective thing with a lot of help from Hadds [Brad Haddin] and Finchy [Aaron Finch] and Mitch Johnson really steps up and helps the bowlers out.’’
Bailey has previously taken over from Clarke during the Champions Trophy in England last year, the tour of India that followed the 2013 Ashes and during last summer’s series against the English.
Being thrown into a national leadership position is something the former South Launceston batsman is familiar with, having made his international Twenty20 debut as Australia’s skipper in 2012.