Aaron Finch aiming for one more crack at Test cricket
Australia's ODI and T20 captain Aaron Finch wants to make one more push at trying to play Test cricket again after a brief and ultimately unsuccessful stint last summer.
Finch was surprisingly drafted into the Test team for the UAE series against Pakistan last October, in the wake of the suspensions to Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steven Smith following the ball-tampering scandal, despite a middling first-class record.
He played five Tests, two against Pakistan away and three against India at home, making two half-centuries before he was dropped after the Boxing Day Test.
Finch's experiment at the top of the order in Tests had a huge impact on his limited-overs returns and put him under pressure heading towards the World Cup, but he regained his form and his confidence to lead Australia to the semi-final.
But after riding the rollercoaster last year, Finch is ready to have one more push at trying to play Test cricket again this summer.
"For me personally, it's about probably having one really good crack at trying to get back to the Test team again," Finch told SEN radio station. "The young guys who came in and did well throughout the back half of last summer did a really good job. I still think that I've got one really good crack at it left in me."
There are four Sheffield Shield games before the first Test against Pakistan for Finch to make his case although he is likely to miss one game when he is required to lead Australia's T20I team in six matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
He played one County Championship game for Surrey during his stint in England after the World Cup, scoring 90 against Hampshire at The Oval. He only managed one game for Victoria last summer in between Test, ODI and T20I duties.
"Obviously [I'll] just try and get some runs, get some big runs there. That's my plan," Finch said. "I think, the young kids who have come in a taken their opportunities, Kurtis Patterson and Travis Head, these guys have come in and done reasonably well when they've played.
"Kurtis got a hundred in the last Test that he played. Will Pucovski and that whole crop of young batters who are coming through are so talented, so I think I've got one more push in it for myself. If it doesn't happen then it doesn't happen. I'm comfortable with that. It will be nice to play a few Shield games in a row to be fair. It's been a while since I've played more than one in a row."
Finch said he watched the Ashes with envy and still felt a desire to be part of Test cricket. He took heart from Matthew Wade's effort to get back to Test level and score two Ashes centuries after dominating Shield cricket last summer.
One point of conjecture will be where he bats for Victoria. There was a lot of debate last year about his selection as a Test opener given in his 44 first-class innings prior to his Test debut he had batted no higher than No. 4 for either Victoria or Surrey.
Victoria coach Andrew McDonald was adamant Finch would not open in his only game for Victoria last season and the compromise was that he batted at No. 3 against Queensland ahead of the first Test against India.
"We haven't spoken about that just yet," Finch said. "There's a lot of quality players in Victoria at the moment so getting a game might be the first start. I think middle order will probably be my preferred spot. I know doing the opening duties last summer was one of first times I'd really done it in the longer format but you take any opportunity you can when you play for Australia."