Aaron Finch © Getty Images
Australia’s opening batsman in the shorter formats, Aaron Finch has been in a red hot form and has averaged more than 48 in the last six months. As the former world champions begin an important season and with the ICC World Cup 2015 a year away, Finch’s rise is a boost to their preparations for the tournament. Devarchit Varma explains.
It all began in August 2013, when the right-handed Aaron Finch brought some relief to the Australian camp, smashing his way to a superb 156 against England at Southampton in a T20 international. It came after Australia were drubbed in the Ashes 2013 and needed some impetus in the one-day leg of the tour. Finch’s century not only won Australia the game, but also proved that the fortunes of the team were a lot different in the shorter formats of the game when compared to Test cricket.
Since that knock, Finch has played in two T20s and 12 One-Day Internationals (ODIs). He has scored two centuries and three half-centuries, and has been named Man of the Match on two occasions. In the year 2013, he was Australia’s fourth highest run-scorer in ODIs with 514 runs in 18 matches, whereas in T20Is, he was the top scorer with 262 runs in six matches, at a stunning average of 43.66. Certainly, his rise in the shorter format of the game comes as a boost to the Australian camp, which will now have to start building a side for the 2015 World Cup.
Finch’s rise in the shorter formats provides Australia a start to their build-up to the next World Cup. The presence of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Steven Smith and George Bailey makes Australia’s batting even more dangerous — which they have to nurture and build up to an extent that they are all guns blazing by the time the World Cup begins.
The Ashes is in the bag and they have fashioned a good comeback in Test cricket. However, their plans in one-day cricket would be different. Australia’s team performance and general manager Pat Howard revealed to Sydney Morning Herald that the successful partnership of Clarke and Darren Lehmann now allows him to concentrate on players’ fitness, the team’s scheduling and preparations, and also building a side for the future. Certainly the tournament would be his top priority.
Australia would be playing fair amount of ODI cricket before the World Cup starts, which gives the four-time champions good ground to prepare. As per the Future Tours Programme (FTP) of the International Cricket Council (ICC), they would be playing 17 more ODIs before the tournament. Australia will tour Zimbabwe for a three-match series in July 2014, while there are reports of the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being cut short to accommodate more limited-overs matches Apart from the current five-match series against England, the Australian side would be taking on South Africa in November 2014 for a five-match series, after which they’ll host England and India right before the World Cup for a triangular series.
The rise of Finch and his partnership with David Warner at the top is crucial for Australia. The bowling department looks far more settled as of now, compared to the batting. Australian think-tank will certainly be looking into this aspect of their game as the recovery, which began with the emphatic Ashes win, now allows them to raise their game and bounce back after a prolonged slump.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)