World Cup 2019: Aaron Finch reveals ‘huge anxiety’ over ODI axing
Finch feared being dropped for the World Cup after 21 limited-overs innings without a fifty. © AFP

Aaron Finch, Australia’s limited-overs captain, has admitted to having “huge anxiety” over his spot in the defending champions’ squad for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup as he struggled through a prolonged batting slump this year.

Finch last month shrugged off a lean run for form during which he went 21 innings without a half-century in limited-overs cricket, scoring two hundreds and two 90s in the 5-0 ODI series win over Pakistan in the UAE.

In an interview with Melbourne radio station SEN, Finch said that despite that spike, the prospect of being axed for the World Cup weighed him down.

(FULL LIST: All 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup squads)

“(I was feeling) huge anxiety based on a World Cup coming up, being captain of the side and not having the output I wanted,” he said. “I was getting really frustrated that, again, I was preparing and doing everything I thought I could to succeed but it just wasn’t happening. I don’t know why. It was probably just my own mindset, I was starting to think a bit negatively.

“The support I got from the players and coaches was unbelievable, but still in the back of your mind you think: ‘there’s a World Cup not far away, as a captain of the side I could be left out’. Then you start putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to perform,” he said. “(Recent good form) just re-assured me that I still am a pretty good player. You don’t lose your skill overnight.”

(READ: Australia will go to World Cup with a lot of confidence: Aaron Finch)

Written off after a torrid 15 months in which Australia won just three of 18 ODIs, Finch led the 2015 World Cup winners from 0-2 in India to beat Virat Kohli’s formidable team 3-2, Australia’s first series win in India since 2009. Next, they whitewashed a depleted Pakistan side 5-0 in the UAE.

Against India in three home ODIs, Finch managed 26 runs. When Australia toured India in March, he showed signs of a return to form when he made 93 in the third ODI. He was Man of the Series against Pakistan after scoring 451 runs at an average of 112.75, with two centuries and two fifties.

Though his place is confirmed as Australia’s World Cup captain, Finch admitted that his Test career is probably over.

Aaron Finch had a tough time against India’s bowlers in the home Test series. © AFP

Finch, who started his Test career in the UAE against Pakistan, scored a half-century in his first innings but struggled thereafter. During the India series at home, he managed 97 runs across six innings and was dropped for the fourth and final Test. He was also overlooked for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

(READ: Three openers in form a welcome problem for Australia: Justin Langer)

“My chances to play Test cricket again have probably slipped away,” said Finch. “I’m still very grateful for the opportunity and (while) I would change the results, I wouldn’t change the journey and the learning that I’ve had from it. I never take optional (training) sessions off. I’ve always had a fear that if I don’t go and I fail, what would have happened if I did go? But if I did or didn’t go, it probably wouldn’t change my performance. But I don’t want to ever leave that to chance.

“Looking back now, it’d be a lot easier to make that decision (to not go to every training session). It’s just unfortunate that I probably won’t get that chance again.

“I gave it everything I could, and I didn’t leave any stone unturned. Reality was, the Indian bowlers were better than me at the time. Whether that’d be the case in 12 months’ time or five years later, we won’t know. But they were better than me, I can live with that. I’m OK with being beaten on the day if I’ve prepared as well as I can.”