Aussie’s fall from ‘freak’ to jumbled mess
When George Bailey was a highly touted junior, his technique was raw, loose and free.
His growth from high-upside kid to a Tasmanian domestic star came from freak hand eye co-ordination, not the type of elegance you'd see from a Shaun Marsh cover-drive or a Mark Waugh whip off the toes.
George is just one of those guys: an Australian junior doubles tennis champ, or something like it, a Table Tennis wizard. He can swat away low flying sparrows. Hits a good golf ball. If he's gotta hit it, he'll do it well.
For George, Australian Test representation came by way of crafting his technique so that balance and timing were equal to his brutal stroke play.
Freak hand-eye coordination will only take you so far, and in George's case, it was domestic shield cricket at a low-30s average and Australian ODI representation.
A huge win for freak hand-eye as a stand-alone offering.
As you'll see below, at one time, George was a technically efficient player.
That time was when he was on the cusp of an Ashes campaign. The old foe. Yep, our George was there. In the summer of 2013/14, he was a top six batter in the country.
So, let's take a look at the technical differences between his very best, and his current, very worst.
It's a difference of balance versus performing the Nutbush as the bowler hits delivery stride.
SHIELD FINAL, 2012-13
Shuffle, crouch and movement free: Ryan Harris has released the ball and George is in a great position.
Head, hands and feet are in good alignment to the bowler, and most importantly, the off stump... He hasn't shuffled his way from the car park to get into this position.
The risk of the shuffle, or any huge movement before the ball is delivered, is that its not possible to get the movement in sync every single time. Kids, this here is a position you want to emulate.
If I'm being picky, those hands could be a little higher, perhaps getting up near the winksters.. To show you how low-hands can impact posture and head position, I want you to stand up out of your chair. Put your hands together and now bend until they touch your lower-thigh. What has it done to your centre of gravity? You've folded over haven't you.. that is natural and no good for knowing the location of your off-stump.
SHIELD GAME V VICTORIA, LAST ROUND
Comparatively, this is a mess. Eyes are tilted and have to be strained, along with his neck, through the fact his shoulders and feet pointing at mid-off.
Those hands are even lower, which is concerning because it means the bat itself is lower, leaving even less time to pick it up and execute a stroke.
Age 36, that's not ideal.
What that falling head does is change the perception of where the ball is coming from and how you need to react. Adding to those brain signals are the angle of feet and shoulders.
If we move forward a frame, it is clear that George's head, eyes and hands are now outside the line of off stump.. and are way outside the line of his feet.
All of this means that perceptually his brain is telling him that this ball is now targeting middle to leg - in fact it will tell him ALL balls are targeting him and the stumps - when in fact the ball is hitting the top of off stump without any real deviation.
From that position, you are scientifically more likely to grow an extra hand than George is to make contact with this ball.
The end result is this.
His bat path has had to come from the wicketkeeper to wide of mid-on in the hope he can get lucky and save his stumps.
Off and middle stump are exposed, while the head remains outside the line of off stump. It's ugly. The best-case scenario with that angle of attack on the ball is that he nicks it and hopes someone drops it.
Working your blade in the same motion as a wind shield wiper is problematic when attempting to defend your off stump.
Kids, use your accelerator, not your wind-shield wiper.
SHIELD FINAL, 2012-13
Moving back to the balance of the Shield final - shuffle, crouch and pre-movement free: Again, head, hands and feet are all in great position.
The stroke has been initiated here and that immaculate balance will allow George to complete a defensive stroke that presents a full face of the bat.
OK, sure, he got bowled. But that ball had to keep low and deviated a metre to break the balanced and technically sound defence of the non-shuffling George Bailey.
Look at him: Bat, hands and feet are all in perfect alignment.
To be honest, that's how you want to be dismissed - some complete bit of nonsense that you've no control over.
Right here, he has covered all bases as opposed the most recent dismissal where he has opened them all up like teenagers on their third date.
The answer for George is one he has already found and then inexplicably lost: play to your strengths, manage your weaknesses.
Sadly, this pre-movement and the position he ends up in as the bowler releases the ball is doing nothing more than expose all of his weaknesses - particularly when bowlers are smart enough to further exaggerate the angle by delivering the ball from wider on the crease.
Balance has always been the key for George in finding his inner Zen and this funked up movement goes against all of that.
If it were granting him access to the type of balance and alignment we can see from the Shield final of 12-13, then Nutbush away.
But the reality is that it's not; it's leaving him vulnerable and exposed to all modes of dismissal with no strength in position for attack..
My advice to George? Call me. For $65 an hour cash, I'll have you hitting the ball back at the bowler with a full face quicker than you can say - A church house, gin house, A school house, outhouse, On highway number nineteen, The people keep the city clean -