George Bailey won’t return Hampshire this year, the veteran choosing family over the second year of his deal with the English county side.
Bailey’s wife Katie is due to give birth to the couple’s second child at the end of April and the Tasmania skipper has opted against returning to England’s south coast, where he captained Hampshire last year.
The 35-year-old also didn’t put his name forward for the IPL auction earlier this year, joking that the impending addition to his family meant he had two options – “the IPL auction or divorce”.
He said deciding to stay at home with his family instead of spending most of the year away underlines a shift in priorities in the twilight of his career.
“I reckon there would have been a time where I would have chosen cricket over family,” he told cricket.com.au after he was named Australia’s Domestic Player of the Year on Monday night.
“But now it’s not even a decision, really. I love spending time with my family and I think it’s had a really positive impact on my cricket.
“I wouldn’t advocate that for 24-year-olds, that’s just where I am and it’s working out really well.”
While Bailey praised the national recalls this summer of “a couple of old blokes” – Cameron White, Shaun Marsh and long-time teammate Tim Paine – he concedes he holds only a glimmer of hope that he will ever play for Australia again.
But after a lean period with his beloved Tasmania domestically, Bailey can see the beginnings of a resurgence in the Apple Isle, providing added motivation in the latter stages of his playing career.
After three seasons without playing finals, Bailey captained Hobart Hurricanes to the final of the KFC BBL this summer and the Tigers remain well in contention for the JLT Sheffield Shield decider in March.
And he says the promise of a brighter future domestically has encouraged him to continue playing, despite the carrot of an international call-up being out of reach.
“Your motivation changes, there’s no doubt,” he says. “Your drive for a long time is to play for your country.
“The fact is (playing) is still so much fun. The flip side is going to work somewhere where (you don’t have) that challenge and passion. Your worst days are so frustrating, but that’s what makes your great days so good.
“I can honestly see a really great horizon coming. I don’t think I’ll be there for the greatest years of Tassie’s renaissance, but I want to be there for long enough to make an impact.”