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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

George Bailey's weird batting stance does nothing to ease Australia's macho image

Improvisation or misplaced bravado? The Aussie still scored a half-century, but the example it sets for youngsters is worrying

George Bailey turns his back while batting against South Africa. Screengrab courtesy cricket.com.au / Facebook
George Bailey turns his back while batting against South Africa. Screengrab courtesy cricket.com.au / Facebook

Cricket Australia has spent much of this year attempting to clean up its image after the ball-tampering scandal involving former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

The findings of a scathing independent review of the organisation found it to be "arrogant and controlling", while a culture of "winning at all costs" was observed. Warner in particular has always been central to the side's alpha-male approach with sledging the norm rather than an occasional tactic.

But in a week when the review has painted Australia's cricket in the worst possible light which has culminated with the resignation of Cricket Australia chairman David Peever, we now have another example of braggadocio behaviour by an Australian player.

The South African team may have been giggling as they faced the Australian Prime Minister's XI in Canberra on Wednesday, but the actions of batsman (and captain on the day) George Bailey during the match have added to the feeling that Australia won't be able to shake off the macho image.

Bailey can be seen in the video with his back turned as South African fast bowler Lungi Ngidi approaches. Bailey straightens out at the moment Ngidi lets go, though it takes a brave man to turn away when the ball is about to be propelled at more than 80mph.

Bailey has been known to use the unorthodox method in the past, though not to this extent. His explanation is that it allows him to place his feet in the right position at the right moment.

Technique aside, one must question the message it sends to cricket-mad Australian youngsters who will no doubt be copying it - until they turn too late and get the ball square in the back or the head.

But more importantly is the psyche behind Bailey's stance, that Australian cricketers have no fear and will go to whatever length to succeed.

Of course we have seen some questionable tactics by batsmen over the years, even more so in the age of T20 as they toy with the bowler by moving around the crease and improvising with a range of expansive (and dangerous) shots such as the switch hit and ramp.

In the recent Pakistan-Australia Test match in Abu Dhabi we saw Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed batting with his feet way outside leg-stump when facing Nathan Lyon.

However, there comes a point when improvisation turns into bravado and arrogance.

For Bailey, his weird batting worked as he finished 51 not out. But should he continue with it and fail, it could well be added to the list of actions by Australian players which have done their team few favours this year.

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Read more:

Ollie Pope interview: England youngster on 'surreal' England call up and how he would love to play UAE T20x

Darren Lehmann receives counselling to deal with fall-out from Australia ball-tampering scandal

David Warner leaves field over sledging - before returning to hit a century