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George Bailey fails again in Sydney

By AAP .
3 January 2014 03:15PM EST

GEORGE Bailey had an ideal opportunity to reward selectors' faith at the SCG on Friday, but instead continued an inauspicious start to his Test career.

All week speculation raged over whether the out-of-sorts middle-order batsman deserved to retain his place for the fifth and final Ashes Test ahead of Tasmanian teammate James Faulkner.

The theory being that Faulkner's left-arm pace would offer more on a green SCG wicket than Bailey's modest returns so far this series.

On Thursday Michael Clarke suggested Australia should pick the best 11, and that sticking with the same group that had raced to a 4-0 Ashes lead would be the "romantic" option.

By Friday, coach Darren Lehmann found out love hurts.

Bailey has had a poor debut series, scoring 136 runs at 22.83 through seven innings.

But it is his inability to follow in the footsteps of Mike Hussey, whose reputation as a rock in the middle order has been difficult to replace, that has been notable.

While Hussey was known as a man for a crisis, Bailey's first innings contributions have been less inspiring.

He's registered a measly 66 runs at 13.2 through five innings in the first dig of each Test.

With Lehmann showing faith in him for the Sydney Test, and Australia reeling at 4-94 by lunch on day one, the scene was set for Bailey to silence his doubters and validate his selection.

But the 31-year-old fell in all-too-familiar fashion, fiddling at a delivery outside off which he helped to Alastair Cook at first slip for one.

It raises serious doubts about Bailey's place in the team and will force selectors to question whether he has earned a spot on next month's three-Test tour of South Africa.

GEORGE BAILEY'S FIRST INNINGS RECORD THIS ASHES
Brisbane: 3
Adelaide: 53
Perth: 7
Melbourne: 0
Sydney: 1

TOTAL: 66 runs at 13.2

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