Australia news February 8, 2016

Finch likely to lose Australia T20 captaincy to Smith

Under Aaron Finch, Australia performed poorly in the T20s against India © AFP

Aaron Finch is expected to be unceremoniously dumped as Australia's Twenty20 captain when the squad for the World T20 is named on Tuesday.

The Test and ODI captain Steven Smith is set to be installed as leader in all three formats following Australia's 3-0 series hiding at the hands of India in their recent T20 series, according to reports in the Age and the Daily Telegraph. Finch suffered a hamstring injury during the second game in Melbourne that had Shane Watson assuming the stand-in leadership for the final match in Sydney.

Watson cited a lack of continuity for the T20 side as a major stumbling block to Australia's success in the format over the years. While the motivation behind the selectors' decision has not yet been made clear, installing Smith as captain in all formats will create an environment of greater consistency and stability.

Before the T20 series against India, Finch was asked about the arrangement where Smith was usurped as captain in the shortest format. "I'm the captain of the side and I've got the utmost respect for him as a player and as a leader," Finch said. "I know that no matter what the situation, everyone is just there to win a game.

"I'm going to use him as much as I can for advice and for tactics, and just small things like that. Under my leadership I want everyone to have their plans and their own ideas, and be able to feel comfortable to come to me no matter what the situation of the game. It's very open and that will be no different with Steve there. It's great to have him in the side."

The removal of Finch will mean that the Australian captaincy is unified under the leadership of one player for the first time since Ricky Ponting retired from T20 internationals in 2009 in order to prolong his career in other formats. It was a move repeated by Michael Clarke in 2011 at the outset of his captaincy career, leaving Cameron White and then George Bailey to lead the team, before Finch took over in 2014.

When Smith replaced Clarke as full time leader at the end of last year's Ashes defeat, Finch was re-affirmed as T20 captain even though Smith took the reins for the single T20 scheduled in England, where he topped scored in a narrow defeat. The lack of T20 fixtures played by Australia in recent times was underlined by the fact that the annual T20 award was not awarded at this year's Allan Border Medal night.

Despite an outstanding overall record in T20 matches, Finch's place in the squad as a player is far from certain, and not only due to his uncertain recovery from the hamstring injury. Watson made an outstanding century during that most recent T20 match at the SCG, and has long stated his preference for batting up the order. Apart from dropping Finch, there seems no other way to squeeze Watson into a top order that will also feature David Warner, Smith and the burgeoning talent of Usman Khawaja.

The captaincy change also has faint echoes of the sacking of the coach Mickey Arthur for Darren Lehmann prior to the 2013 Ashes series, a decision made in order to generate rapid improvement to the Test team ahead of back-to-back meetings with England, and by extension shore-up the jobs of others. The national selectors have faced a wave of criticism in recent weeks surrounding their treatment of Khawaja in particular.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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