Bailey backs Brad for World T20 selection

Australian Twenty20 captain George Bailey has made it clear he wants Brad Hodge in his team for the World Twenty20 titles in Bangladesh in March.

Australia's defeat of England in the second T20 match at the MCG on Friday night was so comprehensive that Hodge, listed to bat in the finishing role at No.5, wasn't required. Hodge will have another chance to perform on the world stage in the last international match of the home summer in Sydney on Sunday night but Bailey has given the strongest indication yet that the 39-year-old will be on the plane to Bangladesh regardless.

"The beauty of Hodgey is he's been around for so long I think we have seen everything he's got and we certainly like it," Bailey said after he and Cameron White propelled Australia to an eight-wicket win in Melbourne.

"That finishing role is so important, coming in to save the game or try to ice the game. We are really happy to have him there and we'd like to see him there for a long time, hopefully the World Cup."

If there were reservations in recent years about the veteran's agility in the field they were dispelled on Friday night when he moved like a gazelle to dismiss Melbourne Stars teammate Luke Wright with a brilliant, low catch at short cover and then when he throw down the stumps to get rid of Eoin Morgan.

"Luke Wright was probably a little bit stiff. I'm not sure Hodgey has moved that well for the Melbourne Stars all year and then he pulls off a screamer," Bailey said.

A sliding Morgan was arguably more unlucky than Wright, given his entire bat was over the crease but had bounced up off the ground when the stumps were broken. Television umpire Simon Fry made the correct decision under the law governing run-outs, which only spares a batsman who has made his ground and then left his crease if he has done so to avoid being hit by the ball.

England captain Stuart Broad was not alone in not knowing the rule, as the decision was criticised by commentators who had played and watched cricket all their lives.

"Having played international cricket for seven years I was saying it wasn't out but I didn't know the rules because I think it was out, wasn't it, if you stick to the rules," said Broad.  "It was a huge decision and losing Eoin in that fashion early was really unlucky

"It's been a torrid tour for Team England," Broad said after another series was lost to Australia. "We came here with high hopes and lost the Ashes five-nil, didn't really get going in the one-day series and lost 4-1 and now we've lost the Twenty20 series, so it's been a tough tour on the cricket side of things and off the field, we've lost a few guys who have gone home."

Hours later, Broad's words had even more resonance when head coach Andy Flower quit his post, following the departures of Jonathan Trott (stress-related illness), Graeme Swann (retired) and Steven Finn (unselectable).

"I don't think many coaches or players will look back on this tour with huge fondness," Broad said.

Bailey was full of praise for 20-year-old leg spinner James Muirhead, who is well-placed to be Australia's specialist spinner for the World Twenty20.

Muirhead collected 1-17 from his four overs and displayed impressive composure. In five games against England this summer (two T20 internationals and three tour games), Muirhead has taken 12 wickets at an average of 28, so perhaps it's not surprising that the national selectors have him in their plans for the 2015 Ashes tour provided he progresses at domestic level between now and then.

"What I liked a lot tonight and also from the other night was I thought his flight was excellent," Bailey said. "I challenged him from his first over into the wind, and had the English guys hitting with the wind to the shorter boundary. He bowled that over beautifully. I'm really happy with his confidence in terms of what he wants from his field. He was keen to have a first slip in for his four overs which I love to see. I love his confidence, which I think you need to bowl leg spin because there will be nights he will bowl as beautifully as he did tonight and he will get whacked."

This story Bailey backs Brad for World T20 selection first appeared on Brisbane Times.