The announcement that George Bailey is to become the third member of the selection triumvirate of Australian national cricket, joining Justin Langer and Trevor Hohns as members of what is quite possibly the most thankless job in the country, was naturally greeted with skepticism.
Bailey is the former captain for the Aussie ODI squad and he still plays Shield cricket for Tasmania.
It is a departure from tradition to pick a selector still active as a player, but Bailey has the respect, if not the unadulterated adulation, of the cricket community.
Bailey will take the role as the replacement for Greg Chappell, who retired after the 2019 Ashes.
Questions of Bailey’s objectivity arose immediately, to which he replied, “I’m not going to pick myself.”
Current Australia XI members Tim Paine and Usman Khawaja seem to be on the pro side of Bailey being the third selector and the appointment of Bailey seems to be CA’s attempt to further improve communications between selectors and players.
Khawaja remarked, “I think there is no one more involved and more relevant in the game than people who are actually playing the game. I think players are one of the biggest stakeholders, sometimes the most under-utilised and undervalued stakeholders in the game. I think it’s always important to have someone in the skin of the game.”
Paine was quoted as saying of Bailey, “In last week’s Shield game he was batting at five, I was batting at seven, so we were both sitting in the change rooms and set up a mock interview. He’s ready to go, so hopefully he gets the nod, I think he’d be ideal.”
The board of CA has to give the stamp of approval to Bailey, and efforts to include a current player have in the past been nixed by the board.
Current selector Hohns was tapped right after he retired. Chappel was appointed following his retirement in 1984. He once again accepted the role in 2010 and 2016, so we may just see him again if the pattern holds.