“His limitations as a batsman are there for everyone to see. But over the course of his career, Finch has overcome his deficiencies, played to his limitations and moulded a career worth being proud of”
Not too long ago, Aaron Finch was swamped in the batting line-up by the vice-captain and captain on either side but the ball tampering saga in South Africa has seen the duo part ways with International cricket for a year and all of a sudden Finch is leading Australia’s World Cup defence, a proposition that seemed least likely when Steven Smith and David Warner chirped away for fun in the Rainbow Nation before the dark hour.
As Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, decided Tim Paine, despite all his tremendous leadership qualities which came to the fore in the Tests, was surplus to ODI requirements and should focus on Test cricket alone, the leadership role was always likely to come to Finch.
Australia have a habit of appointing their best player as captain and the tradition seems to be continuing with Finch who is the leading run-scorer in the format behind Smith and Warner since the last World Cup. Finch won’t be alone in his quest with Cricket Australia’s unique dual vice-captain policy making an appearance in the fifty-over format too.
Alex Carey and Josh Hazlewood would act as Finch’s two bankable partners in the World Cup quest.
“As was the case when we announced the Test and T20 captains and vice-captains recently, the selection was based on their strong presentations which outlined their leadership credentials, the actions they have displayed on and off the field and the vision they have for Australian cricket,” Hohns had said.
Australia are set to begin their preparations for the World Cup with a three-match ODI series against the Proteas starting next month and have named a strong squad to face a depleted South African unit, hurt by injuries. India are set to tour post that as the new team takes shape under Finch.
“We expect Aaron, Josh and Alex to lead the side through a big Australian summer, where we’ll meet South Africa and India, they’ll also be driving our standards and values as we prepare our defence of the World Cup, which is only seven months away.”
Finch has a massive burden on his shoulders. Australia’s ODI record in the last couple of years is so deplorable that their win/loss ratio is the second worst in the world behind Sri Lanka. In 25 ODIs since the beginning of 2017, Australia have won just 6, four of them coming in a single series against Pakistan at home, and lost 17, including series losses against New Zealand, India, England (twice) and a disastrous Champions Trophy where rain played spoilsport twice in their journey.
With series’ coming up against South Africa and India, Finch has the additional responsibility of rallying together a young team, develop his own leadership skills and prepare for the World Cup defence.
Finch has skippered the ODI side only twice before – as a stop-gap option – and hasn’t yet won a game for them as an ODI leader. This time, though, he will have more time to make plans and implement his own ideas on the team. There are enough signs to suggest Finch is the apt player to guide Australia to the World Cup.
In a side where less than three are assured of places, Finch is a relatively easy choice. His bossy nature at the top of the batting order is something he has steered clear of as a team man. There is a characteristic smile, an authority that stems from confidence and a class about the way he talks to people. This is all un-Australian but at a time Australia are looking to go un-Australian, Finch is a perfect choice. The right man at the right time.
His task is cut out, though. With big series’ and little preparation time to grow into the role, Finch will have to be proactive from the word go. The team selected is one step in the right direction although a couple of names in the mix seem past their expiry date. Combined with Justin Langer, who is known to have his own set of preferences, Finch will be keenly watched in the next few months.
His limitations as a batsman are there for everyone to see. But over the course of his career, Finch has overcome his deficiencies, played to his limitations and moulded a career worth being proud of. The World Cup defence is a massive step for Finch the leader but given how he has taken things in his stride, it isn’t beyond his capabilities to keep the trophy at home. At the very least, trust him to lead the side from the front.