COLOMBO: As Chris Gayle danced, Gangnam Style, on the grave of Australia's World Twenty20 campaign, vanquished captain George Bailey insisted the team's semi-final finish was just the start of his career as a national leader.
Australia entered the tournament ranked ninth in the world, a number to which Bailey attached little relevance. If he and his bowlers had just found a way to get Gayle out, he mused in the aftermath of Australia's 74-run defeat to the West Indies on Friday night … well, they didn't, and so Australia fell short of the goal they set when Bailey was appointed.
''It stings that we haven't won this tournament,'' he said. ''Australian cricket's very proud of what it's achieved and we haven't won a World Twenty20 tournament, so that hurts.
Ganging up … Shane Watson watches the West Indians react to a dismissal. Photo: Reuters
''All you can do in Twenty20 is give yourself a chance to get to the knockout stages and then play your best cricket. We ticked the first bit. We just got outplayed tonight.''
The 30-year-old was appointed captain - before he had represented his country - with this tournament in mind. Some viewed the decision as an odd, un-Australian experiment, and team performance chief Pat Howard admitted it could have backfired.
''It was quite a radical decision but it was about adapting the culture,'' Howard said. ''I note some people's comments about the Mike Brearley captaincy and I don't think that's fair - the bloke has shown he can play. He's demonstrated success as a captain and he's demonstrated an ability to lead.''
Bailey wants to continue in the job as he seeks to advance his career in the longer formats, although Australia do not play another Twenty20 international until January.
''I'm keen to play as much cricket for Australia as I can,'' he said. ''I just said to the guys then I've really enjoyed the five weeks we've had together. It's an eternity for a T20 team and it's the first time that I've felt it's become a team. In the last few months we've started to treat our T20 team like our one-day team and our Test team in the way we pick it.
''We're trying to look for that consistency with guys in their spots and starting to respect the way T20 is played a little bit. Absolutely I'd like to be a part of that. We've made mention of Bangladesh in 2014 as the next World Cup and because you play so few T20 cricket [games] that's where this team now begins to focus.''
Bailey produced his best innings in a losing cause, striking 63 in 29 balls, but the target of 206 was beyond even the West Indies' imaginings when they won the toss and batted. The remarkable thing about Gayle's innings, apart from his breathtaking power, was that he was patient at the start, happy to let Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard soak up the pressure.
Feeling winded, Gayle took time out to get his breath back. But Australia's bowlers looked as if they had been kicked in the chest, none more than Xavier Doherty, whose last over to Gayle and Pollard was crunched for 25.
The Jamaican celebrated with moves inspired by the South Korean pop sensation Psy in his Gangnam Style music video, which has become the West Indies' signature dance. These gyrations will surely win them some support even against host nation Sri Lanka in today's final. ''That's me,'' Gayle said. ''It depends what type of mood I'm in. I'll just do something crazy. Oh, we're definitely going to rock Sri Lanka.''
David Hussey was recalled at the expense of Glenn Maxwell, but the 35-year-old faces an uncertain future after a second-ball duck and 0-22 in two overs.
''He was brought back in because of his experience,'' Bailey said. ''He's played so much T20 cricket that in clinches you're hoping that he's going to step up and show that experience, which didn't happen. From one game you can't put a line through him. My innings was hollow and by the time he came out to bat the game was probably gone as well. I don't know going forward for him. He was the best player in the Big Bash last year so if he continues that form with his all-round ability, age isn't a factor. If he's still playing cricket in 2014, he's someone we'll look at.''