Our focus is on 2015 ICC World Cup, says George Bailey

Australia are slated to host England for the Ashes after this series, but Bailey, said that wasn't the topmost agenda for the team in India.

Updated: July 16, 2014 17:28 IST
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Bangalore: George Bailey, who will lead Australia during their limited-overs tour of India that includes one Twenty20 International and seven One-Day Internationals, described the series as a stepping stone towards the 2015 World Cup that will take place in Australia and New Zealand.

Australia are slated to host England for the Ashes after this series, but Bailey, said that wasn't the topmost agenda for the team in India.

"There's plenty of guys back in Australia who are already starting their focus on the Ashes. As far as this tournament goes, the focus is on the preparation for the 2015 World Cup," said Bailey. "To be honest, in terms of international cricket, it (the Ashes) is months away. Eight games here is a long way to go. We have got a round of first-class matches to go. So there's a lot to go through before we start our focus on the Ashes."

Australia are currently ranked second in ODIs and if they win the series by a 6-1 or 7-0 margin, they'll dethrone India from the top spot. Steve Rixon, the Australia coach, said reaching the top was very important to everyone connected with Australian cricket.

"We look at the tournament not just as a tournament, but a chance to be No.1 in the world in one of the three formats. It's very important for the players, very important for the coaching staff, and very important for Cricket Australia," emphasised Rixon.

Bailey is leading the ODI team because Michael Clarke, the regular captain, is suffering from a relapse of a longstanding back injury. Both Bailey and Rixon didn't minimise the importance of missing Clarke, with Bailey likening it to "taking out (MS) Dhoni" from the Indian side.

Australia have triumphed on the last two occasions when they played India in a seven-match ODI series in India, winning in 2007 and 2009, but though they've arrived with a considerably less experienced squad this time, Bailey and Rixon felt that the greater exposure players had to Indian conditions would hold them in good stead.

Several members of the squad are, or have been, part of IPL franchises and five players were part of the sides that played in the Champions League Twenty20 final on Sunday - Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Glenn Maxwell.

"One of the great things about the IPL over the years is that we have played in a lot of grounds against the best players. All of us have played with and against a lot of the Indian players and vice-versa," said Bailey. "We know a lot of strengths and weaknesses, a lot about personalities. There are some advantages for both the teams, but also some areas to try and exploit."

"We have been fortunate to have five of them playing (in CLT20 2013)," added Rixon. "We are in a reasonable position."

Rixon also said that while a young side and a relatively inexperienced captain could be seen as a weakness, it could also be turned into a strength. "It is one of our learning curves at the moment. George is relatively new to captaincy. In the time he has been captain, he was very competitive with the job. He's done it with distinction in Twenty20s. Youthful exuberance can often be very good."

In the past, Australian sides would fire salvos at the opposition before the series, with the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne often predicting a winning series margin in favour of Australia. But Bailey said the current group "doesn't need to do that".

"We are very polite," said Bailey. "I still think around the world you still see certain indiviudals make those predictions. That was the way they challenged themselves, got themselves fired up for the series. This group doesn't need to do that. We have got enough challenges and don't have superstars like Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath. If we are going to play good one-day cricket, if we win this series, we will need all 13 or 14 of us to play really well."

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