ACA Player of the month - December January 25, 2013

Finch resolves to be himself

Aaron Finch has resolved to shed the tentative ways of his first two ODI appearances for Australia

Aaron Finch was not himself during his first two ODI appearances for Australia earlier this month, and he knew it.

The fearless but calculated striking for Victoria and the Melbourne Renegades that had won Finch his place in the team was momentarily absent, replaced by some indecisive prods at the ball that had him snicking behind in game one and pouched at short cover in game two.

This was not the way Finch had turned heads this summer, and a nod as the ACA's player of the month for December has reiterated the fact. As he prepares to face Sri Lanka in the two Twenty20 internationals at Sydney's Olympic Stadium and the MCG, Finch said he would be seeking to play more naturally, using his power but also his brain.

"It was a great confidence boost to get picked," Finch told ESPNcricinfo. "I was disappointed with how I played in the two one day games, but at the same time I took a lot of experience out of it. I learned a lot about my game funnily enough, just in two games.

"It doesn't sound like a lot of time, but just the way I went about it was probably a little different to how I do for Victoria and the Renegades. I probably didn't try to play my natural game, I was probably more conservative. You can only learn by failing I guess."

There have been a few failures over the course of Finch's career to date, surprising those who have seen him at his best, coshing the ball so cleanly while also demonstrating a technique compact enough to withstand quality bowling. Last summer he followed an off-season in which he played for Australia A with a dire domestic season for the Bushrangers, forcing his omission from the Shield team - he is still on the fringes of the first-class team.

Finch has admitted to being worn down at times by his own expectations, and said the catalyst for his success this so far this summer was the barnstorming limited overs innings of 154 against Queensland at the Gabba in October. Composed as part of an opening stand of 226 with Rob Quiney, the innings lifted much of that weight from Finch's shoulders.

"That being my first hundred in the one-day format was great, it probably took a little bit of pressure off me," Finch said. "I've been putting pressure on myself to really be that guy who's in there and wins games for the team. In the past I've just got us into positions where we can win, but never really finished them myself. So it was really pleasing to get a big one early in the season and ease into the season a little bit more rather than chasing your tail.

"Myself and Bobby Quiney just had a great partnership, we were feeding off each other, we were both in pretty good control of our game, which in one-day cricket you can feel like you're getting behind the game and take too many risks, but that day everything just seemed to flow for us."

That flow continued on into the BBL, where Finch showed a sharpness of leadership in first helping to recruit a strong and savvy Renegades squad, then showing vim as captain of a team that lost only one of eight qualifying matches before slipping up regrettably in the semi-finals. The likes of Aaron O'Brien and Ben Rohrer flourished under Finch, who placed more faith in them than other had at times over undersung careers.

"It was a pretty nervy time, the first time I'd had the captaincy from day one," Finch said. "I'd done it every now and then for Victoria but never had it in my own right, so I was a bit nervous. We were really confident with the players we got together that we could have a big impact in the tournament. It's not a tournament you can win with just one or two players and the really pleasing thing was we put a side together of people who've won before, they know how to win and guys who really play their role well.

"Going back a little bit from a Victorian point of view someone like Aaron O'Brien always played really well against us. We knew how good he was as an intelligent cricketer, plays his role, you know what you're going to get and he never disappointed. Ben Rohrer's probably had a different role in the past in teams he's played with, he's been Nos. 6 and 7 and finishing the innings, but he wanted a new challenge and he was perfect for us. He was our No. 1 target and luckily we got him. We saw the quality of him through the BBL, taking games away from the opposition."

Finch is now representing Australia in two formats, and has reason to be pleased. But there are two goals sitting centrally in his mind. The first is to take the freedom of his best domestic batting onto the international stage. The second is to finally prove himself as a first-class batsman, for a current average of 29.96 from 30 matches does him about as much justice as those two worrisome ODI innings against Sri Lanka in Melbourne and Adelaide.

"It can't be too much of a technical thing, I feel like that's in pretty good order," Finch said of the long-form gap on his resume. "It's probably mental, a combination of a few things. Missing out a few times, you start to doubt yourself and then you tend to play a little more conservatively, but depending on how many Shield games I get to play after Christmas, I'm confident I can come out and do well. I don't feel like it's too far away, I've been working hard on that, and confident in myself I can score heavily."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Philip on January 27, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    I've always regarded Geoff Marsh as a player somewhat limited by his defensive style. That said, however, all players are ultimately limited by something or other. Keith Fletcher was an otherwise fine player limited by Jeff Thomson (and the lack of modern protective gear). Bruce Reid was a tall left-armer limited by injury. David Hookes was a boy-wonder limited by an impulsive streak. Aaron Finch is limited by an inability to build an innings. Yes, he can flail the bowling in short-form, when he gets going, but even the stodgy old Geoff Marsh flailed a hapless SA attack at the WACA in the late '80s for something over 350. That proved that he could attack. It is, however, in the balance between attack and defence that many careers slip and Finch is no exception to that. That is why he's never made 150-odd in a SS match. Shaun Marsh's T20I innings last night, all 17 balls for just 6 runs, was a microcosm of such indecision. Do I hit out? Do I take a single? Or do I just run myself out?

  • Andrew on January 26, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    @ygkd on (January 26 2013, 08:31 AM GMT) - mate I agee with you. G Marsh was a good old fashioned opener who did end up with a poor ave in Tests, but look at the era he played in. My recollection of the late 80s, was that almost nobody averaged 50 (about 4 I think Gavaskar, Miandad, Border & Richards), not many averaged 40, & there was a hell of a lot of non-West Indian openers that averaged UNDER 30. As for his ODI stats, S/Rates under 60 were common as pitches had more "juice" in them for bowlers. Marsh became an ODI dinosaur pretty quickly, but he was important to Oz ODI success. No one else at the time was doing better than him.

  • Philip on January 26, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    I never once actually said that Geoff Marsh was really, really, really good. What I did say was that as an old-fashioned opener he was more reliable than his son, Shaun. However, to give Marsh senior his due he did play against quality quick bowling and he did a job for his team. As for his one-day strike rate, that was a different era with different conditions. It cannot be judged by today's standards and to attempt to do so is to do him a disservice. Potshots at his ability are nothing new. Years ago there were ordinary club openers who thought they were just as good. They weren't. But that doesn't mean I don't think there were some knocking about the Sheffield Shield at times who should have had a go instead of him. In fact, I'm not fussed about the Marsh family at all. My point was that when even Geoff Marsh's son, having been blessed with so many opportunities, cannot stick around there could just be a problem. Indeed, @VivGilchrist, not all should try to bat like Viv and Gillie.

  • Mariam on January 26, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    @Shaggy076 and Meety i think the reason Khawaja wasn't picked was because selectors will send him and other non ODI batsman to India early to prepare, can't wait for the India series, should be a cracker.

  • Basil on January 26, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    @yvgd, I am sick of people mentioning Geoff Marsh as a "good old fashioned opener".... the man averaged 33 in Tests! 33! and he was vice captain. That makes him one of the luckiest players to have ever played. In ODIs he averaged 39 with a strike rate of 55. That means his average innings was 39 runs off around 75 balls. That's 39 in 12.3 overs! He was terrible.

  • Merv on January 26, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    All he has to be is a Victorian to get selected. Himself? Not necessary.

  • Ash on January 26, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    khawaja would have been my choice. he is the man of potential but needs to be given chances to boost his confidence.

  • Philip on January 25, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    Totally agree with @Jay32. Chris Rogers is an example of an opener. Finch is a hitter. Now once upon a time, about 125 years ago, hitters used to regularly open, but they only did so with a stonewaller at the other end. Nowadays we want to have two hitters which, if it comes off, looks fantastic, but when it doesn't, and that's most of the time, they just look unreliable. Someone said to me the other day that Shaun Marsh was the best opener in the country. Now, Marsh may be more of an opener than Aaron Finch but I don't think he's a patch on the reliability of his father, Geoff. Old-fashioned opening batsmen should be placed on the list of endangered Australian species, threatened with extinction by hitters with helmets, bouncer restrictions, bats like tree trunks and roped-in boundaries. Perhaps we should reintroduce some from overseas?

  • Jay on January 25, 2013, 13:45 GMT

    To become a successful opener across any cricket format, the batsman must know how to get 100s. Watson and Aaron are the kind of batsman who go with their batting flow and when its their day they end up scoring a 100 without a set method to their batting or in other words they get to a 100 by sheer madness. Whilst players like Cook, Amla, Clarke and Kallis to name a few follow a set method to score 100s, they are always reliable. Although, Watson and Aaron look good when they get going , they will never be reliable and that is not the trait of an opening batsman.

  • Graham on January 25, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Meety agree with you Khnawaja needs to play shield cricket and ready himself for the test series. Warner, Finch, Marsh, Hughes are all better top order options than khawaja and Hussey, Bailey, Fergusson and Haddin are all better middle order options in the one-day games.