Bid to save Test spot

George Bailey can rescue his Test spot the same way he earned it, by scoring big one-day international runs for Australia in the series starting on Sunday at the MCG. 

Spearhead Mitchell Johnson has been rested from the opening ODI against England, but fellow Ashes heroes Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson are likely to play along with Bailey. 

Bailey is under pressure to hold his place at No.6 for next month's three-Test tour of South Africa after an underwhelming debut summer where he averaged 26 and made it past 50 only once in the five Ashes Tests. 

The Tasmanian right-hander was exposed by England's fast bowlers repeatedly in the first innings of matches and selectors will have to weigh up the merits of keeping a winning team together against temptation to give another batsman a chance. 

Bailey might be up against it, but Australian coach Darren Lehmann gave him some reassurance yesterday by reiterating that strong performances in the five ODIs against England will count for something when selectors decide on the tour squad to head to South Africa on January 29. 

Bailey forced his way into Australia's Ashes-winning side after blitzing India in a series of one-dayers in India leading into the home summer _ averaging 95.6. 

Now, Bailey, who captained Australia on that tour in skipper Clarke's absence, will look to use his strongest format to buy himself another chance to impress at Test level. 

``Every time you represent your country you're trying to play in all formats,'' said Lehmann, when asked about Bailey. 

``Every game is important for guys to make runs and take wickets.'' 

The same goes for impressive fast bowler James Pattinson, who is looking to make it back for South Africa after missing the majority of the back-to-back Ashes series with stress fractures. 

Pattinson is likely to join Ashes destroyers Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle on the plane for South Africa, however, Lehmann says the 23-year-old needs to earn his recall. 

``He needs to bowl well, like everyone else is playing, trying to get on that trip,'' he said. 

Australia is building towards next year's 50-over World Cup and a return to No.1 on the ODI rankings, having fallen narrowly behind India _ and Lehmann stressed the importance of maintaining momentum from the Ashes. 

However, the coach also recognises the need to manage his stars after a gruelling campaign. 

Johnson needs a freshen-up but will return for the second ODI fixture at the Gabba on January 17. 

George Bailey

George Bailey


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