Australian cricket great Ian Healy has questioned the presence of chairman of selectors George Bailey in the Aussie dressing rooms during the current ODI series against England.
Steve Smith sounded another ominous warning and Mitchell Starc sent a message with the ball as Australia secured the series win with a 72-run victory at the SCG on Saturday in the second ODI.
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On the same day Josh Hazlewood became Australia's 28th ODI captain filling in for the rested Pat Cummins, Smith hit 94 from 114 balls to set up Australia's total of 8-280. Starc (4-47) then struck twice in the first over of England's innings, proving he is still one of the world's best white-ball bowlers after being handed the new Kookaburra.
And while James Vince (60) and Sam Billings (71) put the visitors back in the chase, Adam Zampa (4-45) and Starc killed off any chance of an England win to have them all out for 208.
Despite the much-needed series victory after a disappointing flop at the T20 World Cup, controversy has erupted over Bailey's presence within the Australian dressing rooms. The chairman of selectors, who was appointed to the role in August last year, was spotted sitting with the players during matches at the World Cup and again during the first ODI on Thursday night.
“It’s very interesting,” Healy said on SEN radio on Sunday. "George Bailey can throw well, he can provide an extra coach around the traps … but he’s not an extra coach is he? He’s a selector.
“I think in-form players wouldn’t mind (having him next to them); I think down on form players would hate it and have to start acting. I think injured-type players carrying niggles small or maybe a little bit larger wouldn’t be keen to have the chairman of selectors so close.
“The reserves in that dugout, are they acting? If the acting isn’t good … they could be exposed. The current mood in that team might change … that might be creating stress with the selector so upfront and so close.”
Healy suggested the players might not be too comfortable having Bailey around considering a number of controversial selection calls that were made throughout the World Cup.
“We swapped Starc for (Kane) Richardson at a time when we were after wickets. We kept Steve Smith out (of the T20 World Cup),” Healy said.
“We let out of form players stay in that team in that T20 World Cup and that’s all while the chairman of selectors was in the dugout and very, very close to the personality of the squad. If he asks you a question (players would go), ‘alright, what have I got to tell him?’"
Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko said it would be like having his list manager on the interchange bench during an AFL game.
“It’s very strange – especially if you’re a person on the fringe or not really getting a game,” Zorko said.
“It would be like our list manager sitting on the bench when I come off and I haven’t had a good patch. He’s just looking at me (and I say) ‘Oh I can do better!’.”
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Starc's performance on Saturday came after he was controversially dropped for Australia's last group game at the World Cup against Afghanistan, after losing the new ball earlier in the tournament.
The left-armer bowled with fire at the SCG and swung the ball early, getting Jason Roy caught behind down the leg-side before beating Dawid Malan's edge to take off stump in the first over with a beauty of a ball.
"It was least expected, there was no swing from anyone else throughout the whole game really," Hazlewood said after the game.
"To bowl a first over like that. Obviously Roy, a bit unlucky. But we've been struggling to get Malan out through the summer so far. To see the back of him was nice. There were some beauties there."
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