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News

Aaron Finch available for BBL start but could be given time off early in competition

Kane Richardson will play his first cricket since the England tour having missed the IPL and series against India

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
10-Dec-2020
Melbourne Renegades captain Aaron Finch is fit and available for the Renegades' first two BBL matches this weekend but could be rested during the tournament in order to spend some time at home.
Finch missed Australia's second T20I against India in Sydney after suffering a minor glute strain in the first match in Canberra last Friday. He returned for Tuesday's final T20I in Sydney and Renegades coach Michael Klinger confirmed Finch would lead the side in Saturday's opener against the Perth Scorchers in Hobart.
"He's definitely going to be playing," Klinger said. "He came into Hobart last night and obviously played the last T20 game for Australia and has been passed fit. He'll have his hit out tomorrow with us leading into the game so he's ready to go and he always comes to the Renegades set up with a fantastic attitude."
Finch hasn't been home to Melbourne since leaving for Australia's UK tour in August due to international duty and the IPL.
The unusual nature of this season's BBL means that players will be hubs for at least the first part of the season prior to the new year. The Renegades are keen to allow Finch to head home at some stage which means he could miss a couple of games during the tournament.
"There may be periods where we give him time to go home," Klinger said. "We're quite lucky in our first period where we've got two blocks where we've got six-day breaks after our back-to-back games on the 12th and 13th so there may be a period there where we can get Finchy home.
"There are complications at the moment with Covid and how many days you can be away and then isolating before you get back into the hub here in Hobart or elsewhere. If there's an opportunity to give him some time off then we definitely will because I think it will definitely help him but also help us when comes back refreshed."
Experienced paceman Kane Richardson has joined the squad after opting out of the IPL and Australia's limited-overs series with India in order to remain in Adelaide and spend time with his wife and new-born son.
"Kane joined the group two days ago," Klinger said. "The good thing is he's had a lot of bowling. He had a good hit out yesterday where he played in a couple of practice games and he's raring to go on Saturday."
The Renegades haven't been so fortunate with the availability of their two Afghanistan recruits Mohammad Nabi and Noor Ahmad for the first two games. The pair had their initial flight to Australia cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Adelaide in November which delayed their arrival to Australia by nine days. As a result, they are still in hotel quarantine and won't be available this weekend.
"They come out of the quarantine on the 15th so they'll be with us game three," Klinger said. "It's certainly exciting to have Nabi with his experience and ability but also such a young raw talent in Noor Ahmad.
"I had a good chat with Rashid Khan yesterday when we played the Strikers in a practice game and he speaks so highly as a young player, not only with his skill but also with his control as well. I'm really excited to let him loose, to be honest, and see how he goes. A lot of Australian players have struggled in the past against wristspin so he could have a big impact on the tournament."
Klinger was able to call upon former Gloucestershire team-mate Benny Howell, who was already in Victoria, to come into the squad.
"I played with Benny for seven years at Gloucester so I know all the tricks he has and how talented he is," Klinger said. "He's been extremely successful in the UK and the Bangladesh Premier League. I'd probably describe him as a shorter version of an Andrew Tye. He's got all the slower ball, knuckleballs, and he's a fantastic finisher with the bat as well."
The Renegades won't have South African legspinner Imran Tahir until the New Year. They are hopeful he will arrive just before Christmas in order to be out of quarantine for at least the five matches and finals if the Renegades qualify. Imad Wasim will join the squad on Boxing Day after Pakistan's T20I overs series in New Zealand is complete.
Nabi's absence from Saturday's clash with the Scorchers has opened the door for one of Jake Fraser-McGurk or Mackenzie Harvey to play. The two young batsmen were unavailable last season due to the Under-19 World Cup but Klinger was keen to give one of them an opportunity this week after both had impressed in the Renegades practice matches.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne