Sydney: George Bailey has "all but blasted" his way into Australia's Test side for the Ashes opener against England on his recent scintillating form, reports said Thursday. The 31-year-old right-hander, already earmarked by chief selector John Inverarity as an Ashes contender, boosted his case with a spectacular 156 off 114 balls against India on Wednesday.
It was the ninth-biggest one-day international score by an Australian and followed recent knocks of 85, 92 not out and 98, making him favourite for the number six slot ahead of the first Test, starting in Brisbane on November 21.
"Bailey's stunning innings should go far to ensuring his Test debut against England at the Gabba," the Sydney Daily Telegraph said. "At a time when Australia's Test middle order requires stability, Bailey looks ready to answer the call ... he has all but blasted himself into the Test XI."
Inverarity has been greatly impressed by the Tasmanian's form. "His performance in ODI cricket has been outstanding," Inverarity said earlier this week.
"Since he started 18 months ago, he's been our best-performed one-day player in terms of average, aggregate runs, strike rate. He's just been outstanding.
"When we look at a player we look at four things: their batting, their bowling, their fielding and their character -- or what else they bring to the team. George certainly brings a great deal in that character category to the team.
"He's a very mature, calm young man. I think you'll have seen in his batting performances and in difficult situations that brings out the best in him."
The Australian newspaper said Bailey has mounted a compelling case to strengthen an Australian top order whose weakness showed in the 3-0 Ashes series defeat in England in July-August.
"He is averaging more than 100 in the one-day format, has displayed leadership and maturity in the team environment when both have been questioned in recent series, and he is a right-hander when there is concern about (England spinner) Graeme Swann's advantage over left-handed batsman," it said.
Bailey is competing against Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes for a Test spot in Brisbane.