Australia’s selectors and new coach Andrew McDonald are adamant T20I skipper Aaron Finch is under no pressure for his place in the T20 World Cup title defense later this year but he is eager to quieten the public debate about his form.
Australia’s white-ball team heads back on the road on Wednesday for three T20Is and five ODIs in Sri Lanka beginning on June 7. The T20I side will be nearly at full strength with only Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa missing from the team that won the World Cup last year. Cummins is resting from the T20I series after playing in the IPL while Zampa is on paternity leave.
Finch made 55 off 45 balls in Australia’s last T20I against Pakistan in Lahore and was named Player of the Match. It was his first T20I half-century in 14 innings, having registered six single-figure scores in his previous eight games which included a five-match home series against Sri Lanka in February where he twice batted at No. 3. He also made scores of 23, 0, and 0 in his three ODI innings in Pakistan prior to the half-century in Lahore.
Finch had, by his own admission, an “inconsistent” IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders following the tour of Pakistan. After arriving late he made 58 in his second innings against Rajasthan Royals but was only selected for five games in total having registered four other scores of 7, 3, 4, and 14.
Australia’s upcoming schedule was released on Monday with Finch likely to get 11 T20Is and 11 ODIs prior to the T20 World Cup and he has a simple outlook.
“Just get some more runs,” Finch said on Monday. “It’s been a reasonably lean patch. I’ve been through that plenty of times in my career. At times, you go through stages where you get a heap of runs in a hurry and then go through some lean patches.
“With such a busy schedule of cricket, there’s a lot of time to be able to build and I suppose get back into the groove of one-day cricket especially. We haven’t played a huge amount of that over the last little while, so it’d be really nice to try and get some big runs and keep everyone off my back for a little while.”
Finch has been tinkering with his set-up and his movement patterns for some time, trying to regain the rhythm and flow that once made him one of the best limited-overs in the world. He noted at the back end of the Pakistan series that he was getting too open in his stance, but admitted he was “trying to go a little too hard” in the IPL by moving around the crease a lot and hoped to settle into a better basis for the Sri Lanka series.
“When you’re worried about the ball swinging back into your front pad, you can tend to open up which then has a bit of a flow-on effect,” he said. “So it’s just trying to get back to a little bit more square and making sure that I’m giving myself every chance to get through the first five or six balls and then in T20 or ODIs you can sort of flow on from that.
“They’re obviously your most vulnerable times. But just squaring up my technique again. I was just a bit open and hips and shoulders and feet and everything and just lost the ability to transfer my weight back through the ball.”
Australia aren’t planning on tinkering too much with their winning T20I set-up in Sri Lanka. However, the absence of Zampa and Cummins, as well as spin-friendly conditions, may give them the opportunity to play two spinners rather than three quicks in a four-man attack as they stick fast with the seven-batter philosophy that won the World. Cup.
“Not knowing what we’re going to get conditions-wise for the T20s, I think Colombo and Kandy are so different, I think we’ve got to be flexible and adaptable and making sure that when we get to the World Cup that we ‘ve got plenty of options that we can go with,” Finch said.
“Whether we jig our side to have two spinners or go with the three quicks and use the allrounders a bit more, so we’ll have to be flexible, and I think that creates some great options for us.”