Australia draw confidence from Finch feat
August 31, Chester-le-Street
Start time 2.30pm (1330 GMT)
Did those at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday witness the explosion of a new Twenty20 sensation, or will "Finch-hitting" become a byword for a flash-dash-and-crash-in-the-pan one-off? Like Stay Puft terrorising Manhattan, Aaron Finch stomped around the pitch, towering over the opposition and effortlessly depositing sixes wherever he chose. He will have the chance to make bowlers' nightmares flesh again in the second T20 at Chester-le-Street - England may need to resort to calling the Ghostbusters.
At domestic level, Finch's record is formidable but it has taken a freakish knock to cement his spot in the Australia team - though credit should go to the selectors for persisting with him, after scores of 1, 7 and 4 in his three previous T20 internationals this year. Perhaps the answer is to only play him versus England, against whom he has an average of 224 from three innings.
The conditions in Durham, where bowlers can usually expect a little more TLC, may mitigate against a similar run bonanza but, after a first win in any format since beating West Indies in an ODI on February 10, Australia's confidence will have soared like one straight out of the middle of Finch's bat. This was the first time Australia had fielded the bench-press top four of Finch, David Warner, Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson and it really only takes one of those to go big to create problems for any side; another dismantling of England would set up the ODIs nicely.
For England, there was encouragement in the spirited way in which they went about their chase, including another gem from Joe Root in his first innings in the format - and that after having his lip split by a bouncer that forced its way through the grill of his helmet, too. While Finch may bestride the strike rate column in international T20 as the fastest gun to have faced 30 balls or more, there's an impish presence right on his tail: at 183.67, Root's career strike rate is just 0.11 lower. Bowl a few more yorkers and England might just make things competitive this time.
Players to watch
The man set to deputise for Alastair Cook as England's ODI captain in the forthcoming series, Eoin Morgan, is fast losing his status as undroppable in limited-overs cricket. He hasn't passed fifty for England since the World Twenty20 - 23 innings in all formats - and has been in scratchy touch for Middlesex after returning from surgery on a broken finger. He could do with reminding everyone of his own personal brand of genius.
For Australia, you can't look past Aaron Finch - and that's not just because he is a hefty slab of a cricketer. T20 innings of that magnitude usually require a bit of luck and Finch was honest enough to admit of his record 14 sixes that "any one of those could have gone straight up in the air"; but, amid the pints and the pop music, he will command something close to unbroken attention when he walks out for the follow up at the Riverside.
England will almost certainly want to look at Michael Carberry, so either of the openers could make way, provided Root doesn't suffer any after effects from being hit on the head. Danny Briggs suffered at the hands of Finch, conceding more runs than any other bowler, and may rotate back out for the ever-reliable James Tredwell. Boyd Rankin is the other bowling option in the squad.
England (possible) 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Root, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach
Steven Smith has returned to Australia after suffering a quad strain, depleting the 18-man limited-overs squad by one. Adam Voges may not be able to force his way back into a powerful top order but there could be changes to the bowling attack, with Mitchell Starc and Nathan Coulter-Nile providing good bench strength. Fawad Ahmed should get another opportunity to acclimatise to international cricket.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Shane Watson, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 George Bailey (capt), 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Fawad Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
The Chester-le Street surface for the Test provided plenty for the seamers and, even with the priorities of T20 in mind, the pitch is unlikely to be as flat and unthreatening as that in Southampton. The average score for the team batting first during this year's FLt20 was just shy of 170. A sunny day is forecast, so batting shouldn't be too taxing.
Stats and trivia
- Australia's win in the first T20 was their first victory in international competition in 200 days.
- They now have a 4-3 win record against England in the shortest format.
- England last T20 at Chester-le-Street was a seven-wicket defeat against South Africa last year, after making 118 for 7.
- Finch's century was the first T20 international hundred scored in the UK.
"Rooty played well for his 90 on his first knock in Twenty20 international cricket. If we were chasing 200 we get it. You can't legislate for someone getting 150 off 63 balls."
England captain Stuart Broad gives credit where it's due
"It's only one T20 game. There are still five one-dayers and another T20 to come and I'm sure they'll come back with some new plays so we'll have to adapt again."
Aaron Finch wasn't getting carried away with his achievement
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here