“After such a promising outing against Pakistan, Aaron Finch has high chances of reinventing himself as a Test player, despite his age being on the wrong side of the 30s”
Australia might well have lost their series against Pakistan. They have a lot of problems that they need to sort out before India visit them on their home turf next month.
It has been quite hard to figure out the positives they can take away from this series. There have been been few but one of them is surely the promise that Aaron Finch has shown as an opener.
He has been around the international scene for Australia for about a decade now. With 93 ODIs and 42 T20Is to his name over the years, the stocky Victorian has been a vital cog for Australia at the top of the order, at least as far as shorter formats are concerned.
However, a Test cap always eluded him as he was perceived as a batsman suited to play the shorter formats only. His swashbuckling style of play and inability to play for long hours was the main reason why he always found himself out of favour in the longest format. His first class average of around 37 supports this fact.
Over the years, he has always found himself guilty of not being good enough to feature in first-class cricket regularly. But everything changed with the fabulous Sheffield Shield season he had in 2018.
And now that he has been given the opportunity, at the age of 32, to show his mettle in the purest format of the game for Australia, he has shown promising signs, thus giving Australia a reason to persist with him in this format.
It’s true that after his knock of 61 runs in the first innings of the first Test, which came in an opening stand of 147 with Usman Khawaja, he wasn’t quite able to make his starts count. He was dismissed for scores of 49, 39 and 31 in three successive innings after that.
However, he got Australia off to steady starts on each of those occasions. That in itself is a big problem that Australia have found a solution to. They hadn’t had a opening century stand in Tests since last two years. And now, with Finch partnering Khawaja, they seem like having found a solution to their opening conundrum until David Warner returns.
It’s not their fault that the batsmen that followed couldn’t make those starts count. Finch, along with Khawaja, has put his best foot forward in testing UAE conditions. He has the highest batting average, after Khawaja, among Australian batsman in this series. He has amassed 181 runs in four outings at an average of 45.25.
He has tried to answer every question that the Pakistani bowlers have asked him in this series. Although he has been Mohammad Abbas’ victim on three out of the four occasions in this series, all those dismissals has been during Abbas’ inspired mid-innings spell.
Finch, in fact, has valiantly negotiated the daunting opening spells in all his outings this series. Moreover, he has looked comfortable against spinners on most occasions but has often looked ugly while using his feet and trying to go for big shots. This—his feet movement—is an area he needs to work on, both against pacers and spinners.
While he has sorted out most of his weaknesses, he still gets stuck at the crease often and becomes vulnerable to incoming deliveries in the process. This fact is backed up by the couple of occasions Abbas has trapped him lbw in this series. This remains the only chink in his armour. If he can rectify this, nobody can stop him from translating his limited overs success into the Test format as well.
With the series against India beginning next month, Finch’s promising showing as an opener has given Australia enough freedom to focus on other problems troubling them. He has given them a very good reason to persist with him in this format. But he needs to successfully convert his starts into big innings from next time onwards. If he can do that, he has high chances of reinventing himself as a Test player, despite his age being on the wrong side of the 30s.