What was supposed to be a dream deck for Test No.
6 hopeful George Bailey looks set to provide an ideal pre-Ashes workout for recovering Australian quick Ryan Harris.
Tasmanian skipper Bailey will have no complaints on the eve of their Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland after a switch to the small, batsman-friendly Allan Border Field due to renovation work at the Gabba.
The flat, picturesque ground looks set to provide the perfect platform for Bailey to stake a final Test claim ahead of the Ashes following his remarkable run with the bat in Australia’s one-day series in India.
However, Bulls captain James Hopes warned Harris might yet benefit the most as he looks to crank up his Ashes preparation after recovering from a virus.
Slapped with a 35-over restriction by national selectors for last week’s Shield clash in Adelaide, Harris took 3-42 off 23 overs but failed to bowl in the second innings when a bug swept through the Bulls’ camp.
The flat deck and no bowling restrictions ensures plenty of hard work looms for Harris against Tasmania this week.
Hopes said his pace spearhead wouldn’t have it any other way ahead of the Ashes opener.
“He is someone who thrives on hard work and he is timing his run perfectly for the first Test.
“His first spell in Adelaide was exceptional on a very flat pitch and I think you will see him even better this week.”
Not that Hopes has dismissed the threat of Bailey.
Former one-day international allrounder Hopes believed Bailey was ready for Test cricket despite averaging 18 in Shield cricket just last season.
“Here it is going to be very flat and very small so we are going to have to be very wary of him,” he said.
“(But) I don’t think he has to prove anything, to be honest. It’s just a matter for the selectors to decide whether they think he is the best option at six.
“He didn’t set the world on fire in Shield cricket last season but it is hard jumping in and out of one-day and Shield cricket.
“And the pitches he has played on in Tasmania have not been great for Shield cricket.
“George is ready to take that step now (to Tests).”
Hopes missed the drawn Shield opener in which Queensland collected first-innings points despite being decimated by the virus.
It forced Hopes to become a last-minute withdrawal and affected every squad member except Joe Burns and Luke Feldman.
But Hopes said everyone had fully recovered.