Bailey backs Aussie rookies B-grade tag rejected

Australia's acting captain George Bailey has rejected claims he will lead a second-string one-day international side against Sri Lanka and accused the Nine Network of talking it down as a TV rights ploy.

The team Bailey announced yesterday to play in today's series-opener at the MCG does little to support his case.

With star batsmen Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, David Warner and dumped veteran Mike Hussey all missing, the Australian top three will all be ODI debutants - Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja.

It will be the most ODI first-gamers Australia has fielded since 1996, when Brad Hogg, Jason Gillespie and Darren Lehmann all made their debuts against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

With Bailey, batting at No.4, boasting just 13 previous ODIs himself and four-game all-rounder Glenn Maxwell at No.6, the only batsmen of notable experience are David Hussey and Brad Haddin.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene (386) has played more ODIs than Australia's entire XI (366).

But Bailey said while it was a team picked with an eye to this year's India and Ashes tours and the 2015 World Cup, they all warranted selection now.

"It's still called the Australian cricket team," Bailey said.

"... For these two games this is the best side that Australia can put out.

"I've got no doubt that if guys perform well, for sure there'll be a few debutants in this game, but going forward I think you'll see these guys a lot more in one-day cricket, I think you'll see some of them play Test cricket."


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