Red-hot T20 blaster Aaron Finch close to Test selection, feels Darren Lehmann

Australia’s T20I captain and ODI vice-captain Aaron Finch is close to earning a maiden Test call-up, feels former Australia batsman and coach Darren Lehmann. Finch, 31, has scored 4957 runs for Australia in limited-overs cricket without earning a Baggy Green, which stands as the record for most international runs scored without playing Test cricket.

Finch’s international white-ball form has been excellent in 2018: 900 runs in 17 internationals, at an average of 69.23 and strike-rate of 132.15. In ODIs this year he has hit three centuries, while in T20Is he has a world record 172 and two fifties. Playing T20s for Surrey in England currently, Finch has slammed 462 runs in six innings at an astonishing strike-rate of 192.50, with scores of 131* and 117* the highlights. His latest century came yesterday as Surrey beat Middlesex by nine wickets  in the London Derby.

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Lehmann, who was head coach of Australia from 2013 until this March when he stood down following the ball-tampering controversy in South Africa, said Finch was a “really good chance” to be selected for Australia’s Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in October.

“He can play Test cricket, there’s no doubt about that,” Lehmann told the Geelong Advertiser. “He’s confident in the way he plays spin bowling, he can take an attack on, and leading into this Pakistan series he’s a really good chance to be selected for that one.

“He was always knocking on the door, but he just hadn’t made runs consistently. But his last couple of Shield years have been pretty good. If you take a look at his numbers, they’re right up there. He probably could’ve made a few more hundreds and pushed his case even further but he’s one player we talked about quite a lot. He’s close, and when I was coach, he was close. He’s probably closer now.”

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With Steve Smith and David Warner serving 12-month suspensions and Cameron Bancroft out for nine months, there are three possible spots open in Australia’s Test squad to tour the UAE. Finch’s first-class form for Victoria over the last three domestic seasons has been decent – 1278 runs in 19 matches for an average of 41.22 – and last month he admitted that it was his inconsistency that had so far kept him out of Test cricket.

“I’ve got myself to blame for that. When I was younger I had an opportunity to really push my case for a few years,” he said. “I had probably 18 to 24 months of really lean four-day or any red-ball cricket to be honest. I was playing good white-ball cricket for Australia and couldn’t get the runs on the board in red-ball cricket.”