London, June 8: Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey feels if the team play its "best cricket" they can win the Champions Trophy and complete a hat-trick of titles.
Australia, who have won two successive Champions Trophy honours in 2006 and 2009, are aiming for a hat-trick. They launched their title defence on Saturday (June 8) against old foes and hosts England.
The team will be without captain Michael Clarke for the opener. Bailey has been handed over the reins for this match.
Ahead of the game, Bailey spoke to the media on Friday (June 7).
Here are the excerpts from Bailey's media conference
Question: I guess the only place to start is with the news about the skipper (Michael Clarke); what is your reaction to that? Is it a really a big blow to the team?
Bailey: There's no doubt it's a blow. We'd love to have Pup with us as a batsman and as our captain. But it is what it is, and we have to deal with the fact that we don't have him. The challenge is there and the opportunity is there for the rest of us to step up, and I know it will be a great boost to the side to know that we can win without him. We had to do it quite a bit over the summer in the one-day format, so we know we can.
Q: I know you're not a medical man, but it must be about keeping him right now?
Bailey: I'm sure all of those that worry about those sorts of things will be getting that right. I know talking to him last night he's still really keen to trying to be right for Game 2, Game 3. Once again, if we can win this game that gives him a little bit of breathing space and a little less pressure to get back for New Zealand. But knowing Pup, the sensible thing you would think would be to get right. He's desperate to play in this tournament and, going forward, one-day cricket as well. So I think he's doing everything he can.
Q: What about you, George, being elevated into the captaincy? I know you've done it before and you were Twenty20 captain, but it's big pressure for you, big game against England and all of that?
Bailey: Yeah, it is. But I'm not under any more pressure than any other captain. First and foremost, my role is to score runs in that middle-order for us. If I can do that, we have enough guys and our players have played enough cricket to know the basics of the game. I'm not going to do anything as a captain that's going to revolutionise the game. It's all pretty basic stuff that we've got to do well and we've got to do better than the other five. But first and foremost, my role is to score runs. So whether you're captain, vice-captain or whatever is next to your name, that doesn't change.
Q: The fact that you're a temporary captain, does that not have an effect on the side going out?
Bailey: It may do. You'd have to talk to the individuals. But once again, I think our guys are clear enough. I'm not the one bowling the ball for them. I talked to our bowlers and we set the plans, but they're the ones executing it. It's all their skills. Shane Watson and David want to go out and open the batting. It's still the individual that ends up making the game happen. I'm just in-charge of hoping the coin lands the right way, really.
Q: And you feel comfortable with that?
Bailey: Absolutely, absolutely. I feel like at times there is pressure from the press because you're new at it or you're less experienced, but at the end of the day, if we lose, am I judged on that? If we win, am I judged on that? Very rarely does a captain have an influence on that part other than the fact of how he performs as an individual.
Q: Australia is obviously looking for a hat-trick in the Champions Trophy. But what's gone on in the past one year, you obviously lost here in England, lost the ODIs comprehensively, lost the season in India. How is the mood and belief in the camp? Can you guys realistically achieve the hat-trick?
Bailey: Honestly, I reckon all sides believe they can win the tournament. There is no doubt about that. In terms of a cricket spectacle, that must be really exciting for the fans around the globe knowing that your country is in with a real shot at winning the title. We're no different to anyone else for the last 12 months.
I think the biggest difference has been our consistency of performance. Our best is still as good as anyone else or any other teams in the world. If we play our best cricket, I've got no doubt we can win the tournament and we probably will win the tournament. But if we don't play our best, and that's been the issue, is the gap between our best and our worst performances has probably grown for most teams that have won the Champions Trophy in the past.
And that change, well, any team's challenge is just to close the gap between your best and your worst performances because you're not going to play your best every game. But the challenge is to make sure that on the days you are a little off, you can find a way to put a team under enough pressure that they succumb.
Q: England laughed at your experience after you got bowled out for 65 the other day.
Bailey: They can. It's not an ideal preparation to get bowled out for 65. But we'll start on zero. Tomorrow, they'll start on zero. How they prepare or how they take that is completely up to them.