As previously flagged, The Public Apology is running a 4-part series to determine who should succeed Michael Clarke as Australia’s next test captain. In this second instalment, Dave Edwards considers whether Australia’s nicest cricketer ever, George Bailey, is the answer.
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A vote for George Bailey is a vote for the nice guy. But does Australia want a nice guy to lead us into battle?
The prevailing school of thought, according to nostalgic male sports fans in their late 20s and early 30s, is that Australian cricket needs a strong frontman. They do not need to possess charisma, be articulate, or have cherubic good looks. In fact, they should be actively ugly, inarticulate and utterly uncharismatic, as a rule.
Allan Border is a prime example of such a frontman. Uncharismatic, unattractive and reluctant to have any form of public conversation whatsoever, Allan Border was exactly the tonic for a post-Kim Hughes Australia. He led by example and called things as he saw them. He was a real man in the 80’s – and that’s saying something.
George Bailey is nice. And to paraphrase Greenday, nice guys finish last in cricket.
George Bailey eats brunch. I know this because I saw him brunching at Pilgrim cafe during a recent trip to Tasmania. I’m not quite sure what he ordered, but if I had to guess, it would have been the duck confit with slow cooked eggs and orange fennel salad.
Allan Border would never eat brunch. Indeed, it’s unlikely that Allan Border would even know such a meal existed between breakfast in lunch. Because Allan Border is a man who doesn’t do things by halves.
There are few examples of nice frontmen being successful. You must be ruthless as a leader, whether in business, in a band, in politics, or in cricket.
In a band, the frontman must simultaneously appeal to both men and women – in that men respect their abilities and wish to be them, while women want to fuck them based on said abilities (looks in this case are irrelevant).
In cricket, however, no-one should ever want to fuck the captain. The captain is ostensibly an asexual figure, preferably unhappily married so as to exude a constant vibe of bitterness. Allan Border and Steve Waugh both had wives and children, I presume, yet they were never seen nor heard.
The Australian captain shouldn’t blow kisses to his missus (hey, Ricky!), or cradle a ‘baby’ in his arms (Davy Warner) after scoring a century. He should salute his teammates with little to no fanfare, indicating that the job is not yet over.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, the captain must also be able to hold down his position in the team. George Bailey is not a great batsman. He’s serviceable, but not great. And a leader must be great, or at least have been great at some stage. Because Australians are not good at respecting mediocrity.
We don’t fall in line behind a bloke who can’t get the job done. In summary, we need someone is competent, cold and clinical. There’s a reason Kim Beazley lost two federal elections: he was too nice.
We don’t want a fat, jolly, idealistic man leading our country. We’d far prefer a sociopath with a temper, or a ruthless pragmatist trained in the Menzies school of conservatism.
Bailey is not the answer. Obviously.
By Dave Edwards