McDonald backs Finch to regain form heading towards T20 World Cup

Interim coach reveals Finch has been working on his movement and that Australia are "building a team around him as a captain" for T20 title defence

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Aaron Finch was out for his second successive duck in ODIs, Pakistan vs Australia, 3rd ODI, Lahore, April 2, 2022

Aaron Finch was out for his second successive duck in ODIs  •  AFP/Getty Images

Australia interim coach Andrew McDonald is in no doubt that captain Aaron Finch will lead Australia's T20 World Cup title defence later this year on home soil despite Finch's current lengthy form slump.
Since the start of the last T20 World Cup in the UAE in October 2021, Finch has played 12 T20Is and three ODIs without making a half-century. Across 15 innings, including both formats, he averages 15.73 with a strike rate of just 97.92.
He also has nine single-figure scores in those 15 innings including back-to-back ducks in the last two ODIs against Pakistan. But McDonald said there was no question internally about Finch's place heading towards the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
"From my end, there's no conversation around the fact that he won't be there," McDonald said. "His form can ebb and flow like most players can and his ability to work through these patches has been significant in his career. We had the same conversation about David Warner leading into the T20 World Cup last time.
"All these conversations are going to happen. Do we think he's still good enough to play at this level? 100%, yes, and I think that's as simple as it gets for us.
"We're building a team around him as a captain. It's a pretty significant pillar to be discussing about not being at the T20 World Cup. From our end, we think he can still play at this level."
There is nothing new about Finch's current woes. He was trapped lbw in his first three balls in each of the last two innings in Lahore. Shaheen Shah Afridi pinned him with a shin-high full toss first ball in the second ODI and Haris Rauf trapped him plumb with a reasonable straight delivery angled in at middle stump in game three. Rauf tried the exact same delivery to Marnus Labuschagne two balls later and the No. 1 Test batter clipped it wide of mid-on with ease for a boundary to highlight the clear differences in balance and footwork between the two players.
Finch put his hand up in the aftermath of the ODI series loss to Pakistan, identifying that he was struggling for runs, and McDonald noted that the pair has been here before many times dating back to their time working together at Victoria and Melbourne Renegades.
"I don't really want to openly share what I think the job should look like because that might put people in difficult situations through the process"
McDonald on the vacant head coach position
"He's disappointed with his current form, there's no doubt about that," McDonald said. "Obviously that plays out on the big stage, but he's currently probably not moving the way that he wants to move in terms of his mechanics.
"That's something that we probably need to rectify, and he's working on it at training. It's like anything, we've been down this path before. Sometimes, he can sort of get his legs crossed over a little bit and gets a little bit too much weight on that left leg.
"It's not an uncommon thing. So, hopefully we can work through it, albeit the timeframes in between these games over here haven't created the time that you would like to be able to have to work on that.
"Common theme creeping in there, but something that he's been able to work through before, and we're really, really confident that he'll be able to work through that as his career continues."
Finch has one more innings on this tour, in Tuesday night's one-off T20I, to find some touch before joining Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
McDonald himself doesn't yet know if he will lead Australia's coaching group at the T20 World Cup despite being the warm favourite to take over the vacant head coaching position full-time, following the departure of Justin Langer.
McDonald, who was the senior assistant, was seconded as interim coach for the Pakistan tour at short notice. Cricket Australia was initially expecting to have a full-time coach appointed by late March but the demands of the tour have meant that McDonald has had limited discussions with CA regarding the role, his candidacy, and what it will look like moving forward.
"Obviously, the congested Test series didn't allow that but with a few more gaps in amongst this one-day series, I've had the opportunity to speak to Cricket Australia," McDonald said. "Whether that then becomes a follow-up conversation, we'll wait to see.
"It'll be pretty much like the other people that have no doubt spoken to Cricket Australia as well. Within that, there was no great detail or clarity on what the role would look like. So that's probably something that will be built in the next few steps. However many steps are there to the process.
"I don't really want to openly share what I think the job should look like because that might put people in difficult situations through the process. I think once the process is done, then I'm happy to talk about what I think it should look like, if I don't have the job, or if I do have the job.
"That's something for later on down the track. I don't really want to weigh into it while that process is going on."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo