George Bailey admits team depends on Shane Watson, but says the middle-order is capable of dealing with Watson's failure
The only blot on an otherwise ultra-impressive Australian campaign was the nervy, embarrassing loss to Pakistan in the final Super Eights match of the ICC World Twenty20 2012, on Tuesday evening.
Set 150 for victory, Australia was eventually left scrambling for the 112 it required to cement its semi-final berth after being completely blown away by Pakistan’s multi-pronged spin attack. In the end, Australia needed the experience and composure of Mike Hussey to finish on 117 for 7, the 32-run defeat not quite the most encouraging manner in which to go into the knockouts.
George Bailey, however, refused to read too much into that performance. Ahead of Friday night’s semi-final against the West Indies, Bailey said, “If you look at the tournament, all teams have had a game they haven’t done well in. Also, Pakistan played very, very well the other night. I don’t think you have to look much into it. We have the momentum and confidence, and we are in the semi-final. There is no second chance; we will go out there and play the way we do. The other night we were tentative, so we will go out and throw caution to the wind. If that is still not good enough, then we are not good enough.”
Australia has traditionally believed in thriving on scoreboard pressure in knockout situations in major tournaments, but Bailey said the decision wasn’t so straightforward this time around. “When we do get into the knockout games, you prefer to have runs on the board and to have that security, to put the pressure back on the other side,” said Bailey. “That’s something we will weigh up but I don’t think it affects us too much in what we do. I am not even sure if we are playing on the same wicket and all those factors count.
“Momentum and confidence play a part within a team, knowing that the guys are doing their roles really well. Once we get that right, then we can focus on individual roles because you are not worrying about whether your teammates are doing their job.”
The Chris Gayle factor, Bailey admitted, was a crucial and significant one. “If he has an outstanding game, then he will make it difficult for us but we can come back through (Shane) Watson, (David) Warner and Hussey,” said Bailey. “In Twenty20, we have these games within the games. The West Indies’ strength is their batting but we have the confidence that we can chase down anything they set or we can put up a good score. Confidence is a huge thing. Once you get to these knockout games you know there are no weak teams or weak players left. It’s all about winning on that day. India got knocked out after winning four out of five and the West Indies have sneaked in with a few less (victories). That’s the format of the game. Once you get to the knockout stages, you got to play the best you can.”
Finally admitting that his team was slightly over-dependent on Watson, Bailey said, “But if we bat the way we do, then I don’t think so. Everything is based on hindsight, isn’t it? Our middle-order is good and if he misses out and we score, then we don’t depend on Watson but if he misses out and we too miss out, then yes, we depend on him. We have absolute confidence in our middle-order and they can score enough runs to give a total that we can defend or chase down.”
The relative failure of the middle-order thus far could facilitate the return of David Hussey, especially given the West Indian thrust on spin through Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and Marlon Samuels. “We are still weighing that option. That’s probably the only change,” said Bailey. “They have used quite a bit of spin in this tournament. (Ravi) Rampaul is the quick going on in the last couple of games, (Darren) Sammy and (Kieron) Pollard take the pace off the ball, and then they have a quality spinner in Narine and we can’t under-estimate the others like Badree.”