Aaron Finch has made only 164 runs in 11 ODI innings this year. The ODIs against England following the T20 World Cup would be the logical time for a new skipper to start settling in if runs haven’t returned by then.
When one shot is considered to have the potential to change everything for a player, it is a good indication that they are having trouble with their form.
It was a wonderful stroke by Aaron Finch to drive Richard Ngarava wide of mid-off in the third over of the third One-Day International between Australia and Zimbabwe in Townsville. His weight moved forward into the ball as he took a good stride, and it was timed perfectly to land in the middle of the bat.
However, it wasn’t a turning point for the Australia limited-overs captain, at least not on Saturday. In response to Ngarava’s ensuing over, he fenced at a delivery outside off stump and was caught at the second slip. He had already fallen victim to Ngarava’s left-arm pace three times in the series after dragging a ball against his stumps in the first game and edging a lifting delivery to slip in the second.
Finch finished the series with a total of 21 runs in three innings, continuing what is starting to resemble a trend. Finch has amassed 164 runs in 11 ODI innings so far in 2022—62 of them in one match against Sri Lanka—and six of those scores have been in the single digits. This is a significant enough sample size to warrant discussion and pose a potential issue for Australia.
Finch had previously stated that “when I get a little heavy there, it starts to affect the rest of my game” prior to the final ODI against Zimbabwe. The rewards will be there very soon; they just haven’t happened yet. I feel like that’s progressing really well.
Nothing important is most likely to happen soon. The T20 World Cup team from Australia will be led by Finch. However, it’s crucial to differentiate between the two white-ball variations. Despite having erratic ODI performance, Finch has been able to maintain a higher level in T20I this year, scoring 247 runs at a strike rate of 30.87, the highest of any 12-month span.
Accordingly, Finch will face New Zealand in Cairns in a pivotal week regarding potential outcomes following the T20 World Cup. Unsurprisingly, his teammates, national selectors, and head coach have all expressed support for him about his stance, but another challenging series will keep the controversy alive.
With New Zealand’s ability to select a quick attack from Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, and Matt Henry, it has the makings of a challenging test as well.
The ODI series against England following the T20 World Cup, which has little riding on it because it is not a Super League match, would be the obvious time to make a change that would give a new captain time to settle in if runs haven’t returned by then.
In that case, Finch hoisting the T20 World Cup aloft on November 13 at home would be the ultimate way to go out, yet sports cannot guarantee a happy conclusion.
There might be similarities to how Eoin Morgan’s career ended suddenly earlier this year after three consecutive losses to the Netherlands. A few days before England’s final game in that series, Morgan woke up and realized his race had already been won. Like Finch, Morgan’s captaincy continued to be held in high regard, so it is unlikely he would have been pushed.
It will be interesting to observe how Finch’s situation develops.
Australia does not lack top-order replacement candidates who have recently made good cases, which may play a role. Travis Head, who was on paternity leave for Zimbabwe and New Zealand series, has averaged 62 in ODIs this year; Ben McDermott scored 55 and 104 against Pakistan, and Marnus Labuschagne seems more suited to a top-three position than a middle-order one.
It would be more difficult to choose someone to succeed Finch as captain even though Alex Carey and Mitchell Marsh would likely be options. But if someone with experience was required to navigate the World Cup, Steven Smith’s name might also be considered.
Finch had a string of subpar performances against India prior to the 2019 ODI World Cup, which turned into one of his most excellent years. Finch is currently in charge of capping off his extraordinary international career, and a huge score or two in Cairns will alter the debate.
(With inputs from espncricinfo.com)
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