Australia v England, 1st ODI, Melbourne January 12, 2014

Finch punch highlights England failing

Vithushan Ehantharajah at the MCG
England have been steadfast in their approach to the start of ODI innings but they were given another lesson in the value of power at the top of the order by Aaron Finch

"Bring in Tymal Mills!" they cried, when Mitchell Johnson and his slingy left arm rained down with great vengeance - because, quite clearly, the best way to combat a bowler is by picking an inexperienced one who shares the same action. "We need our own Boof!" claimed others - months after the same people mocked the promotion of Darren Lehmann, a man of the people, beers and smokes, at the expense of Micky Arthur.

Quicker than you could say "whitewash", Australia were the example to strive towards to be a better you; England were the dodgy friend your mum, in hindsight, never liked the look of.

Cricket is a sucker for self-reflection but its real strength is this mock Stockholm Syndrome - the tendency to admire your captors that every side, not just England, have suffered from during their darkest hours.

On this occasion, as the MCG swayed, by its own heady standards, with "just" 38,066 fans - most dressed in other people's clothes - it was hard not to revel in a smiting by Aaron Finch, whose hundred guided Australia to a comfortable victory. The old grumbles about the pace of England's own top order were quickly unpacked.

"That's how Australia went about it," offered Alastair Cook afterwards, suggesting that England themselves dealt in top-order hundreds, at their very best. But Finch's 121 couldn't have been more un-English had it belched in your face and offered no apology.

Cook denied the need for extra brawn at the top of the innings but you would be hard pressed to find any England fans who watched their team limp to 2 for 28 in their first 10 overs - compared to Australia's 64 without loss - that didn't yearn for similar force from a man in red rather than retro green and yellow.

Truth be told, England have their own svelte Finch-a-like in Alex Hales - the No. 1-ranked Twenty20 batsman in the world (Finch is ninth) - who is currently on these shores biding his time with the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League before the international Twenty20s begin.

Since the new ODI regulations came into effect in late 2012, England have only managed to break the 50 barrier four times from 16 in which they have been allowed the full first 10 Powerplay overs. Only once, in Southampton last June, have they passed 60, their hand forced by a monstrous New Zealand total of 359. Even then, it wasn't enough.

Here, England's lower-middle order of Ravi Bopara, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler (with the additional help of Tim Bresnan) was charged with reaching par rather than taking them out of sight. Were it not for Gary Ballance's 79 and Eoin Morgan's much-needed impetus when he came in at 3 for 62, this game could have been over before the seagulls arrived to make the MCG theirs for the night.

Australia didn't happen upon batsmen like Finch. Take a cursory look around the BBL and you will find a plethora of heavy-hitters who, to steal a line from Dirk Nannes, have "a bit of a waist, thanks to a steady diet of 'cans' and 'darts' with their mates".

For a while, that's all Finch was - your mate at the pub that could hit a big ball. There was little doubt he could do the business in the small confines of the shortest format, but Australia's reluctance to chance him in the 50-over game was noteworthy.

It was the 2012-13 Ryobi Cup that won them around, as Finch notched two centuries and 504 runs across seven matches. Two years after his international T20 debut, he had his ODI one. But poor returns against Sri Lanka and West Indies cast an uneasy slant on 12 months since, which featured an astonishing 156 off 63 balls in T20 against England and a stat-buffing one-day 148 against Scotland.

He has fought off other candidates to open, such as Shaun Marsh and Phillip Hughes, who enjoyed a more fruitful 2013 in ODI cricket but didn't make Australia's squad for this series. And Finch paid out tonight.

At first he swung freely, enjoying three lots of good fortune, the most harrowing of which came when he just managed to pierce the hands of Ballance, positioned at mid-off, when he tried to force Chris Jordan over the top. On 8 at the time, he ran the bonus two runs and took the break between overs to collect himself. Another reprieve of sorts occurred two overs later when he edged through the second-slip region that had only just been vacated.

From then on, he was seemingly happy to concede that this slow pitch wasn't designed for his game. Twos were taken with ease, as boundary fielders were teased with drop-and-runs into the leg side. Once Australia were ahead of the rate, Finch helped maintain an appropriate, steady pace until he was eventually dismissed. By then, it was all over.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 14, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    Its was sheer agony watching England in the just completed Ashes series. It seems that Root and Cook are determined to give the English fans more misery in the ODIs

  • Tristan on January 14, 2014, 1:03 GMT

    @200ondebut There is a serious problem with the English selectors for this current tour and they have been proven incapable on many occasions. Yes in most cases they will know better than the public but if you take a close look at some of their decisions whilst taking into account how they were used and the outcome. The thing is they don't have to defend their choices for instance. 1. Picking multiple tall fast bowlers such as Finn, Tremelett (1 match) and Rankin who were clearly out of form and refusing to play them. 2. Persisting with Root and Cook despite how bad they perform. Root averages 7.8 in his last 5 ODI's. That is less than what Doherty and Mckay's career averages. 3. Picking Trott when he clearly wasn't up to coming 4. Not resting players enough over the last 18 months. Some of which look exhausted. 5. Picking a player who basically can't bat or field (Panesar) and only bowling him for 16.5 overs for the match of which 5-6 were once the match was ove

  • Dummy4 on January 14, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    No team with Bopara in it has the slightest chance of winning - why the hell does he get so many chances?

  • Hamish on January 13, 2014, 22:41 GMT

    Apologies CodandChips, a failed attempt at levity. No criticism was intended. I've watched Vince grow into a full sized bat over the years and have anticipated him being harvested for the greater good of English cricket for some time.

  • Kelum on January 13, 2014, 22:13 GMT

    England administrators need to take a good hard look at their coaching structure, Flower maybe their most successful coach they've had but they are slowly turning in to what Pink Floyd so eloquently put in "Another brick in the wall". Back in the 1930's (courtesy of the Bodyline TV series) they laughed at Don Bradman saying his unorthodox style will never be successful, guess what, the Don remains the pinnacle of batting standard. They seems to be hell bent against flamboyant flair when it comes to cricket, it is evident in their batting, bowling and even their fielding. Chris Jordan looked all the bit like the 70/80's tall WI fast bowlers, even had an raw action similar to Marshal. Apart from that everyone looked too manufactured, too black and white. You can't sustain 4 players like Cook, Bell, Root & Balance in the top in ODIs When Eng won the 10/11 Ashes in Aus they said Flower had African Flair with White Man sense. Seems to me that African flair has gone out of the window.

  • Dale on January 13, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    I know Cook is the captain but if I were an English selector i'd be dropping him (making Bell captain) and Root for Carberry and Hales/Wright. You need someone who come out and blast a quickfire 40-50 runs at the beginning to set up your innings. Adam Gilchrist was the perfect example of this and Finch/Warner do a similar job not nearly as good. Hales is a player who can win a game by himself, right now England don't have anyone like that. Australia have 4 in Finch Watson Warner and Bailey. The best England have is Bell who is a solid performer but not really a match winner. KP used to do it, Hales Carberry and Wright can do it yet none of them are in the team.

  • Paulo on January 13, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    @Mycro3A not sure what you are trying to say. At face value, I'm not sure how you could ask this or possibly expect me to answer- how could I know if we've met eachother?

    If it is a criticism of my selection of Briggs and Vince, let me explain myself. Briggs has sturggled in T20Is but bowled nicely in his only ODI, and since he is here would be worth a go- he can hardly do worse than Tredwell at home vs Australia. On Vince, he can bat through and bat positively, and has had some success in all forms, which suggests he might be worth a punt in such a series like the West Indies, especially when it is probably the least important thing coming up in the next few months (no disrespect to West Indies).

  • Jo on January 13, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    why do eng drop (Finch & Co) so many times? Like 1 down Finch, 2 down Finch and 3 down Finch.... So they had 4 Finches to contain... Look like they really have no intention of playing cricket... Just cancell this tour and go home and sleep enough to really think with foot on ground. Anyways we are seeing worst than 90's eng. IPL have more Aussies than Eng. So IPL created better test appetite players than not.

  • david on January 13, 2014, 18:50 GMT

    Lets be honest here, and it pains me to say this. One team is playing exciting, attacking, positive cricket. The other is getting more negative game by game. Australia's batting in all formats is full of exciting attacking batsmen scoring at nearly 3.5 runs per over in the tests. No occupy the crease here, attack from the first ball, get on top of the opposition. Most of the time in the tests England struggled to reach 2 an over. There bowling is full of menace, bowling to take wickets not just save runs. Its time for a drastic change in England's attitude. We are playing ODIs as they were played in the seventies. 250 is a good score for us, every one else wants 300 minimum. To have any chance in next world cup team should be Bell, Hales, Wright, Pieterson, Morgan, Bopara, Buttler,

  • Hamish on January 13, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Hmm..... Have I seen you at The Rose Bowl CodandChips? No, I meant Rose Bowl.

  • No featured comments at the moment.