A Finch-perfect turnaround

An underachiever since international debut in 2011,opener has found his feet in the last two months.

Written by Aditya Iyer | Jaipur | Published: October 16, 2013 3:38:15 am

Finchy has got a very,very smart cricket brain,” said Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin of opener Aaron Finch on Tuesday. Deadpan,he added: “You wouldn’t think that when you look at him. But he does.”

Taking a shot at a teammate’s personality on the eve of an international,in this case the second one-dayer in Jaipur,must tell you that all is rather well in the Australian dressing room.

Within the space of two matches (the first was a T20I,which they lost after positing a 200-plus score) on this tour,the visitors have gone from being pushovers to contenders. On Tuesday,Virat Kohli even went as far as saying that this Australian ODI team ‘is quite similar to that of India’s,’ likening a squad without their best batsman (Michael Clarke) to the best ranked 50-over side in the world.

No more an also-ran

For that turnaround — turnaround in both fortunes and image — Australia captain George Bailey has been more than happy to credit the man you wouldn’t think has a very smart cricket brain. A batsman who prior to his current hot streak was nothing more than an also-ran for 31 out of 33 months of his international career. The last two months have changed Aaron Finch’s cricketing life.

Finch’s Twitter account tells you that these days,he has plenty to smile about. Peep into @AaronFinch5,and his serial usage of exclamation marks for the most unremarkable of occurrences scream out of the page. For example: ‘Ahhh the double click and swipe up! Thank you everyone! Had been frustrating me for hours!’ This on finding out how to restart an app on his phone. His tweets,however,also tell you a fair bit about his personality.

You understand that the boy from Victoria has a sense of humour — ‘Ok India the jokes over,you can turn the temperature down now! #sweat #sohot’. Or — ‘The pilot we just had has been taking advice from @mitchmarsh235 again,hit the deck very hard!!!’. He also likes coming to India — ‘Ahh how I’ve missed the sound of car horns!! #mumbai’ or ‘We have been greeted very well here in Rajkot!’. You also realise that he is a complete team man (‘Chris Rogers,what a knock! I was so nervous watching him in the 90s!’).

But Finch,like most of us,is a fairweather tweeter. His Twitter account will never tell you that just until a couple of months ago,the 26-year old opening batsman had found it impossible to get comfortable playing international cricket for close to two-and-a-half years. Scroll down into his past however much you like and yet not one tweet will read: ‘Another low score! Am I cut out to represent Australia?!’

RebiRth,after Ashes

In January and February this year,exactly two years after making his T20I debut in 2011,Finch played his first set of one-dayers. His string of scores read: 16,4,10,11,38,25 and 1. There were no exclamation marks in the international T20s that followed either — 1,7 and 4. Not included in Australia’s Champions Trophy squad and called in as a last-minute replacement for the two T20s after the Ashes,Finch could perhaps feel the walls closing in.

“I’ve missed 9000 shots in my career,” Michael Jordan said once. “But all it takes is one shot to turn it around.” Finch will be the first to agree,for according to a recent interview,he claimed that had he not hit Steven Finn for a six — a scoop over square leg — with his very first stroke of the Southampton match,he perhaps never would have felt at ease in the international level.

On Top of his game

On August 29,2013,Finch hit 13 more sixes in his 63-ball 156,the highest-ever score in international T20s. Five days later,recalled to the one-day side for a match against Scotland in Edinburgh,Finch scored 148,adding 246 runs for the first wicket with Shaun Marsh. A month from then,the runs have continued to flow,with 89 in the T20 at Rajkot and 72 in the first one-dayer in Pune.

“Whenever you’re in a partnership with Aaron,it feels like the game is flowing along nicely,because he’s always putting pressure back on to the bowlers,” said Bailey after the Pune win. “And the partnerships at the top has certainly made life easier for us in the middle.”

They have. In Rajkot,debutant Nic Maddinson and Finch added 56 quick runs in 29 balls,a stand that played its role in the side accumulating 201. Similarly,his 110-run stand with Phil Hughes for the first wicket did its bit in taking Australia past 300 in Pune.

“It isn’t just that they’re scoring big runs at the top. Their openers come out all guns blazing,” explained Kohli. “The onus is on us to make life a little harder for them. Or at least stop them from coming out all guns blazing.”

An apt phrase for Finch’s next tweet if his run continues in Jaipur. ‘Guns blazing’. Exclamation mark.

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