Having laughingly referred to himself as 'The Whitewash Wizard' when talking up his chances for a Test recall prior to this summer's Ashes campaign, George Bailey's case has been furthered by recognition as Australia's Domestic Player of the Year.
Bailey received the award at last night's annual Allan Border Medal presentation at Melbourne's Crown Casino, having completed the 12-month voting period as the leading runs-scorer across all three formats – the JLT Sheffield Shield, JLT One-Day Cup and KFC Big Bash League.
The 35-year-old, who was a member of Australia's Test line-up that swept to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash over England in 2013-14 but has not played Test cricket since, also scored another triumph for the veteran class in Australia's domestic ranks.
His success follows that of Western Australia's Adam Voges (at age 36 in 2016) and Victoria's Cameron White (at age 33 last year) as winners of the top individual award among state ranks as voted upon by their peers.
Bailey's consistency across all formats was underscored by his return of 1,468 runs at a combined average of 52.43, with only young South Australia opener Jake Weatherald posting more centuries (four) than the Tasmania skipper's three during that time.
In addition, Bailey posted 11 half centuries and produced a high-score for the period of 200 not out against a New South Wales attack featuring Australia capped bowlers Trent Copeland, Doug Bollinger, Sean Abbott and Moises Henriques at Wollongong last February.
In the lead-up to the first Magellan Ashes Test at the Gabba last November, Bailey was asked about the ongoing debate as to the batting line-up Australia should take into the series opener, given uncertainty over a couple of berths in the middle order.
"I think anyone who has scored 40 or 50 over the last couple of weeks has had their name bandied in the paper but I just had to get myself up to number three today – the 'whitewash wizard' as I refer to myself," Bailey joked after posting a Shield century against Victoria at the MCG.
"I would have thought I was a lock for the Gabba Test given that no one has really put their hand up.
"I am the only bloke left who really knows how to absolutely demolish them (England) who is not already in that Test team.
"The phone is on – I am expecting 'Boof' (Bupa Support Team Men's Coach Darren Lehmann) and 'Cracker' (national selection panel chair Trevor Hohns) to probably call tonight."
Given that Voges' run-scoring deeds saw him earn a Test berth in 2015 when aged 35, and that White was recalled for Australia's ODI outfit earlier this summer on the strength of his recent form, Bailey might yet have the last laugh.
Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line. @ARamseyCricket
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