George Bailey is happy with Darren Lehmann’s backing of his impact on Australia’s Test team – if only he can be sure the coach is being serious.

In his playing days Darren Lehmann wasn’t the toughest part-time spin bowler for an international batsman to pick but George Bailey admits he’s often left bamboozled by his coach.

In a boost to Bailey’s chances of retaining his Test spot for next month’s tour of South Africa, Lehmann described the Tasmanian as a “big plus” to the team in a newspaper interview earlier this week.

Bailey hopes that assessment is an honest one but by his own admission he’ll probably be the last to work out whether Lehmann was really praising his middle-order batsman or just pulling his leg.

“It’s nice he’s saying nice things about me because he normally takes the mickey out of me a bit,” Bailey said.

“I can’t tell when he’s being serious or he’s joking. I’ve had to ask a few times.

“I hope he was being serious then.”

Bailey is clearly desperate for any sign his Test career will extend past the five Ashes matches he enjoyed this summer.

Despite Australia’s comprehensive 5-0 series whitewash, Bailey could only score 183 runs at 26.14 in the series and the 31-year-old is believed to be on the verge of being overlooked for young state teammate Alex Doolan when the squad for South Africa is named next week.

Beyond the belief of his coach, Bailey knows a big score in Friday’s one-day international against England in Brisbane is the simplest way to enhance his chances of booking a seat on the plane to South Africa.

“I’m a batsman. I always need to keep the runs coming,” he said.

And while Lehmann’s poker-face comments can make the Tasmanian nervous, media talk about his position is a much easier factor to ignore.

“There’s pressure because I’m playing cricket for Australia,” he said.

“That’s all the pressure you need I reckon.”