Tasmanian captain George Bailey believes there are several players in the Tigers set-up capable of representing Australia in the next 18 months.
But the former national captain, who turns 36 on Friday, dismissed a report touting him as a smokey among candidates to lead the country to next year’s 50-over World Cup in England.
“Looking at the way Australia have built up to World Cups over the last three or four, they like to get a good block of games into who they think will be in that squad leading up,” the reigning domestic player of the year said at the Tigers’ season launch on Thursday.
“They have sort of made it clear that there’s a group that they’re quite keen on.
“There’s opportunities there but I’d be surprised if they were looking to go backwards in that regard.
“There are lots of opportunities in Test squads, in one-day squads and T20 teams that will come up over the next 18 months and [Tasmania has] got a number of guys who I think are well placed to be putting their hand up.”
Bailey, who captained Australia in 26 of his 90 appearances, has undertaken his first pre-season since 2009 with a majority of Tasmania’s squad staying home to train together under coach Adam Griffith in the lead-up to summer.
Both Bailey and Griffith – two Launceston lads – praised Cricket Tasmania’s investment in a clear-roof marquee over Bellerive Oval’s practice wickets, which has allowed the squad to train on turf for the past five months.
The Tigers’ first match of the season is a one-day fixture on September 19 against Victoria in Townsville.
Griffith has narrowed down his squad to the maximum 14 players, but a strict embargo from Cricket Australia will see it released publicly on Wednesday.
“We head off on Monday and will take a squad of 16 up to Brisbane for a week of training and a practice match against Queensland, and then we have to name our 14 for the first two games,” he said.
“There are definately some guys that are unlucky not to be travelling with us.”
Griffith said those that don’t take part in the domestic tournament will fly to the UAE and represent the Hurricanes in the three-day Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy from October 4-6.
Neither Tasmanian leaders are sold on the new one-day format where states will qualify for finals following a round-robin series, but are keen for success follow a few lean years.
Griffith said having 90 percent of the squad for a long period of time this winter would be advantageous.
“You get to be hands-on with them and work hard with them over the four or five months to make any changes you need to make and continue that learning of how we want them to play their cricket,” he said.
“Not that you’d know from the results, we actually focused on white ball cricket a fair bit towards the back end of pre-season last year and we’ve actually tried to even that balance out a bit.
“Most weeks have been red ball and white ball, we’re preparing for a full season not just for the [one-day] cup and the format Cricket Australia have decided to go with this year with everyone making finals means that the first few rounds we can almost use it as a pre-season.”
Griffith praised the depth of his fast bowling cartel, including former national NSW quick Gurinder Sandhu and George Town’s Gabe Bell, who suffered a season-ending injury halfway through last season.
“I was really disappointed for Gabe last year. He’d bowled so well at the start of the season in his first real crack at being a full-time player in the first-class system; and the second half of the season with the Dukes balls and playing out here a fair bit – he could have done a bit of damage.
“I’m really excited to see what he can do this year. He's fit with no lingering issues.”
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