One-dayers give Bailey chance to save Test spot

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George Bailey can rescue his Test spot the same way he earned it, by scoring big one-day runs for Australia in the series starting on Sunday at the MCG.

Spearhead Mitchell Johnson has been rested from the opening ODI against England, but fellow Ashes heroes Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson are likely to play along with Bailey.

Bailey is under pressure to hold his place at No 6 for next month's three-Test tour of South Africa after an underwhelming debut when he averaged 26 and made it past 50 only once in the five Ashes Tests.

The Tasmanian was exposed by England's fast bowlers repeatedly in the first innings of matches and selectors have to weigh up the merits of keeping a winning team together against temptation to give another batsman a chance.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann gave Bailey some reassurance yesterday by reiterating that strong performances in the five ODIs against England will count for something when selectors decide on the tour squad for South Africa.

Bailey forced his way into Australia's Ashes-winning side after averaging 95.6 in a series of one-dayers in India.

Now Bailey, who captained Australia on that tour in skipper Clarke's absence, will look to use his strongest format to buy himself another chance to impress at Test level.

"Every time you represent your country you're trying to play in all formats," said Lehmann, when asked about Bailey.

"Every game is important for guys to make runs and take wickets."

The same goes for fast bowler James Pattinson, who is looking to make it back for South Africa after missing the majority of the back-to-back Ashes series with stress fractures.

Pattinson is likely to join Ashes destroyers Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle on the plane for South Africa, however Lehmann says the 23-year-old needs to earn his recall.

"He needs to bowl well, like everyone else is playing, trying to get on that trip," he said.

Australia are building towards next year's 50-over World Cup and a return to No 1 on the ODI rankings, having fallen narrowly behind India - and Lehmann stressed the importance of maintaining momentum from the Ashes.

However, he also recognises the need to manage his stars after a gruelling campaign.

Johnson needs a freshen up but will return for the second ODI fixture at the Gabba on January 17.

Watson, Haddin and Clarke are also likely to be rested at various stages throughout the series, although the rotation will be spread around so multiple players aren't absent at once.

"It's important we put the best side we can out, while understanding it's been a hectic five Test matches. Some of the Test boys, especially, are a bit weary," Lehmann said.

"We'll sum it up [resting] as we go. We certainly want to pick and choose where we can do it. We want them to play in their home states, obviously, and we want to make sure we're putting a good squad together looking ahead to the World Cup." 

AAP

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