How clipped Finch regained captaincy wings
Aaron Finch was relaxing in his lounge room when his phone lit up.
It was 2016 and Finch was on the cusp of leading Australia at the Twenty20 World Cup, both as captain and as a destructive opening batsman. Or so he thought.
“(Selector) Rod Marsh rang me and I thought he was telling me the squad, and instead he told me I was in the squad,” Finch told the Sunday Herald Sun.
“I thought, ‘That’s strange – I’m captain, so I’d want to be in the squad’.
“Then he said, ‘You’re not captain either’. I said I don’t agree with it and he said, ‘I don’t care – we’ve made our decision’.
Aaron Finch will captain Australia against Sri Lanka. Picture: AAP/Dave HuntSource:AAP
“That was it. It was about a one-minute phone call.”
Steve Smith replaced Finch as captain – taking the reins in all three formats for the first time – and then Usman Khawaja replaced Finch as Shane Watson’s opening partner for the first World Cup game.
“Absolutely (that hurt),” Finch said.
“I was really excited to lead the side, and being a part of the planning and stuff for so long and finding out when I did … that was disappointing.
“But you get over it because you can’t do anything about it. There’s no point whingeing if you don’t have a solution for the problem.”
Finch, 32, thought his chance to lead Australia at a World Cup was gone.
But fresh from captaining Australia at the ODI World Cup in England, where Michael Vaughan declared the Colac kid the tournament’s standout skipper, preparations to lead Australia at a second World Cup ramp up on Sunday.
Captains Aaron Finch and Lasith Malinga arm-in-arm. Picture: AAP/David MariuzSource:AAP
Australia hosts Sri Lanka at Adelaide Oval in the first of 21 T20s leading up to next year’s home tournament.
And while debate rages over whether Smith will replace Tim Paine as Test captain, there seems little doubt that Finch is the man with the white ball.
“Having Finchy around as captain the last little while, he’s pretty clear about my role,” World Cup leading wicket-taker Mitchell Starc said.
“It’s try to take wickets with the new ball and being flexible to bowl if he needs me through the middle or at the death.”
Sharing the skipper workloads also seems like the healthier option. In David Warner’s absence, Finch blossomed to become a three-format player for five Tests last year … and it fried him.
Last April Finch enjoyed a month off - his first break in seven years.
Finch and Malinga with the trophy. Picture: Mark Brake/GettySource:Getty Images
“It was well-needed after the summer I had. I slept like a baby for about a week,” he said.
“As a one-day player I struggled to understand how Smith and Warner and these guys would come into a one-day series after five Tests flat.
“I’d be like, ‘Smudge you’re in the form of your life, you’re peeling off hundreds, how are you flat?’
“He was like, ‘I’m just cooked’. I was like, ‘Yeah, but you’ve had four or five days off’.”
Smith hasn’t played a T20 for Australia since the last World Cup. But with a new-found respect for the three-format stars, Finch wants he and Warner and Cummins to play as much as they can in the next 12 months.
“You look around the world at T20 sides that are successful – Chennai, Perth Scorchers, Mumbai Indians – and they win competitions quite regularly,” Finch said.
“They have a very similar squad go through for four or five years, so when they all come back together it’s not a new gameplan or everything’s out the window.
“They know what to expect when they walk in the door, and that’s how they play.”
Finch has some pretty handy weapons at his disposal. Picture: AAP/Kelly BarnesSource:AAP
While 14 players are in Australia’s squad for the next six T20s, Finch said there’s “probably 20-22 on the radar – and that can expand at any stage”.
But time is of the essence. Australia deployed Warner in the middle order for the 2016 World Cup off the back of a two-game trial, and it backfired.
“We went into that tournament not knowing what our side was going to be,” Finch said.
“Davey batted in the middle order and I got dropped for the first game. That was something that looking back you’d go if we were going to bat him there, maybe we’d give him a bit more practice.
“Making sure guys are really clear with the way we want to play and giving them a chance to adapt to roles.”
Originally published asHow clipped Finch regained captaincy wings