Aaron Finch couldn't believe what he'd done. He stood near the crease shaking his fists. Screaming at the ground. Almost breaking his bat in half with rage.
Then he walked from the field. Barely looked up. No emotion to speak of. Sixty metres of a solemn face as he approached the MCG boundary. He was out on the scoreboard, but he was still in his Aaron Finch state of mind, the Aaron Finch way of playing, the Aaron Finch state of consciousness.
Finch is a small town boy. His game is not really different to when he played for Colac West. His game never changes. Not when it shouldn't, not when it should.
David Warner is a caveman. There is a Shane Watson enigma. And Glenn Maxwell plays Maxwell ball.
Their personas are almost bigger than their games. You know how David Warner will leap when he makes his hundred. You know how Shane Watson will be out. You know that Glenn Maxwell is a muscle twitch from a reverse hit.
Finch just bats. He does it like Finch, and in some ways he is more predictable than any of them. But there isn't an industry around him: no hype, no big sponsorship, no famous admirers. He is just a bloke who hits.
You know that early in his innings he will probably nick one through second or third slip. You know that he will hit the ball at catchable height. You know he will back away and aim over cover. You know he will punch a drive like a rocket. You know he will get confused and almost cause a run out. You know that whether he scores runs, or fails, he will still have the same look on his face.
There is a personality there, all the same. A story from Yorkshire last year involved Finch turning up to training a bit hungover, and informing his coach and fellow Australian Jason Gillespie that after he had weighed up the pluses of him training in that state he had decided he would be better off in bed. At times he has also been fond of a smoke. He is more Darren Lehmann than Michael Clarke.
Yet, he doesn't bat like a knockabout bloke, a slogger or even an enforcer. He bats in an Aaron Finch consciousness. Monk hitting.
When Finch hits the ball, or when he misses, there is a microsecond of reaction, then a reversion to his normal face. A six over cover might not get much more of a reaction than an edge through a vacant cordon. His face on a skied ball off an attempted slog is not different to his face as the ball finds a home in Bay 13.
Finch doesn't look hurried, or worried. Occasionally ungainly, and at times as agricultural as any farm equipment they use in Colac. But he is also pretty. His straight drives are so effortless the only reason you know something has happened is because mid off turns his head and then chases after the ball.
Clearly things are going on beyond the serene stare. Finch has captained Victoria, the Renegades, Pune Warriors and Australia. But he has the ability to inhabit a space of his own making. While others run at the bowlers, jump in the crease and make a lot of noise, most of the noise from Finch is when the ball has been hit. Before that he just moves into whatever position his instincts tell him will let his bat hit the ball the hardest.
"At the MCG, all Aaron Finch's flaws seemed to float away, like a ball through Chris Woakes' hands"
A ball at the stumps will go over cover. A ball outside off will go to leg. In the Aaron Finch consciousness, the ball just goes.
Finch can play the straight slice for six, find gaps through point from balls at leg stump, leg glance from any line, produce not-quite-right reverse sweeps, pull the ball like the ball had hit on his sister and slog sweep so the ball just disappears.
This Zen nature does frustrate. In his entire first-class career he has made three hundreds, less than he has in ODIs. Many thought he was allergic to red balls until he made 181 for the MCC against the Rest of the World.
His effortless drives on the up often end up in the hands of slips, or gully, or point. He can drag the ball on while deciding which of his shots to use. He gives a chance at the start of almost every innings he plays; he seems to rely on the kindness of others. There is also the running between wickets, which is dreamy and ethereal, although almost never enjoyed by his confused teammates.
At the MCG, all the flaws seemed to float away, like a ball through Chris Woakes' hands. In the last ten years no one has made more List A runs here than Finch. He averages 60 here in international cricket. His strike rate in Big Bash games is 140. And today he scored over 62% of the runs when he was out. At times he was up near a third of Australia's runs. It was England vs Finch, and they got smashed.
When England batted they had lost six wickets just passing Finch's score. And had Finch not dropped Taylor, it could have been seven, or they may not have passed it at all.
There was a point in Finch's innings when the scorebook read: dot, six. The first ball he moved back, arched his back and tried to hit Moeen Ali over cover for six with a flat bat, and missed. The next ball he slog swept 15 rows back. The first was to try and find a gap in the field; the second was forgetting about the field and just hitting. The first ball almost bowled him, and it had no impact on him, or on what followed.
Twenty metres from the MCG steps, Finch looked up.
The members were standing. Everyone of them. He raised his bat politely. Then he looked around and saw the Ponsford crowd all standing, then the Southern Stand, and then the Olympic. And when he turned around the Great Southern Stand was up as well.
A standing ovation from the ground he visited as a kid, for the team he wanted to play for in the tournament he dreamt about.
All 84,336 in the ground were up for him. They couldn't believe what he had done. They were also in the Aaron Finch consciousness.