George Bailey says that facing West Indies will be a test, but Australia are ready for it
For the first time in recent memory, the West Indies goes into a global competition as one of the favourites for the title, the status bestowed upon it courtesy the number of match-winners it possesses.
First up for the West Indies, in Group B of the ICC World Twenty20 2012, is Australia, at the R Premadasa Stadium on Saturday night. Understandably, on match eve, George Bailey spent a fair amount of time elucidating plans to counter Chris Gayle’s explosive ball-striking and Sunil Narine’s unorthodox spin bowling.
“He is a big factor,” Australia’s skipper said of Gayle. “He is a good player. He hits some of the biggest sixes in Twenty20 cricket and his batting stats speak for themselves. We’ve got to be spot-on because the West Indies at their best are very, very dangerous. They are one of the best teams in the world. They are so destructive with the bat, they have good balance, good depth with the ball, certainly a very, very good team. They are one of the best fielding sides and that counts for a lot in Twenty20. They will be on the money and it will be a good test for where they are in this early stage of the tournament.”
Like Mickey Arthur had the previous day, Bailey too stressed the importance of putting West Indies under pressure. “They have their strengths and weaknesses and it will be about putting them under a bit of pressure,” he said. “It is also about us playing the best cricket that we can do. We have some pretty good players in our team too. We certainly will be challenging them.”
Narine tormented Australia’s batsmen during a One-Day International series in West Indies earlier in the year, though Australia did play him with greater confidence as the five-match series unfolded. “Most of our guys had a look at him either in the IPL or in the West Indies,” Bailey pointed out. “We are certainly aware of how good he is and there is no doubt about that. He is a very good bowler. You know that ball that turns the other way, it will be a challenge for the batsman to pick that up but it is dangerous to focus too much on just one bowler.”
The West Indies has several players who have played successfully in Twenty20 leagues across the world. “We start on zero, both teams are none for none at the start of the game,” Bailey said, ruling out any definite advantage for West Indies because of its Twenty20 specialists. “They are a good team, no doubt about it, and if they play very well, it will be tough to beat them. But I don’t think they have played any more or any less than anyone else.”
Australia, Bailey said, was up for the challenge, allaying fears over the availability of Brad Hogg, the Chinaman bowler. “We are pretty excited about this game and it is a really big test for us,” he said. “Hoggy has been a bit down over the last couple of days but he has made it down to training today and I think today or tomorrow afternoon, he will train before the game. I think he will be alright.”