Australia care little whether England have had a chuckle over their Champions Trophy warm-up embarrassments – because they still have the chance to put the record straight when it matters.
Former Scottish Saltire George Bailey, standing in as Australia captain for their Group A opener against their hosts and oldest rivals at Edgbaston today, was one of eight batsmen to depart for single-figures in their 65 all out and consequent 243-run defeat at the hands of India in Cardiff. In the absence of the injured Michael Clarke – ruled out because of his troublesome back injury – Bailey inherits the responsibility of leadership as Australia begin their bid for a third successive Champions Trophy title.
As for their initial opposition, Bailey is unconcerned whether England reacted with mirth or otherwise to that spot of bother in Wales. “They can if they want, I’m not really fussed,” he said.
England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles insisted yesterday that he and his team would not be laughing at Australia’s expense. Bailey acknowledges, nonetheless, that it is pointless to try to put a positive spin on Australia’s defeat on Tuesday. “It’s not an ideal preparation, to get bowled out for 65,” he said. “But we’ll start on zero tomorrow, and they’ll start on zero. How they prepare is completely up to them.”
English supporters, if not necessarily the England team, will doubtless be tempted to mention the Welsh debacle to the opposition at some point. “Good on them and why wouldn’t you be thinking that?” Bailey said. “But what a great opportunity for us to prove a lot of people wrong. What a way to galvanise a side. You can’t disregard the 65, because you never want to have that in any game. We’re hoping that certainly doesn’t happen tomorrow.”
However Australia fare, the personal responsibility will not weigh heavily on Bailey – who believes his leadership role carries less significance with experienced cricketers all around him. “I’m not under any more pressure than any other captain,” he said. “First and foremost, my role is to score runs in that middle order for us. I’m just in charge of hoping the coin lands the right way, really.”
In yesterday’s action, West Indies edged past Pakistan’s total of 170 to register a narrow two-wicket victory in the Group B opener at the Kia Oval. Kemar Roach and Sunil Narine took three wickets apiece in the morning as Pakistan were restricted to a low total, despite a career-high one-day international score of 96 not out from captain Misbah ul-Haq.
Earlier in the innings Denesh Ramdin was barracked by the large Pakistani support in the 20,491-strong crowd for claiming to have caught Misbah off Roach but, after a replay which showed he scooped the ball off the turf, the umpires reinstated the Pakistan skipper.
Chris Gayle led from the front for the Windies, hitting 39, but the rest of the order fell relatively cheaply, leaving the world Twenty20 champions in trouble on 165 for eight. However, Roach and Ramdin saw out the match.