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News

Shane Watson: Aaron Finch's form could make him 'big liability' for T20 World Cup

The batting returns of Australia's limited-overs captain have been in focus for much of the last 12 months

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
20-May-2022
Aaron Finch inside-edged Kuldeep Sen on to his stumps to fall cheaply again, Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2022, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, May 2, 2022

Aaron Finch only managed one substantial innings at the IPL  •  PTI

Former Australia allrounder Shane Watson has put the spotlight back on Aaron Finch's struggles with the bat saying that his poor form could make him a "liability" at the T20 World Cup later this year and he should not be assured of a place just because he is captain.
Finch's batting has been under microscope for much of the last 12 months and though he ended the Pakistan tour with a half-century in the one-off T20I, he endured an unconvincing IPL with Kolkata Knight where he made 86 runs in five innings - 58 of those coming in one knock.
He battled with a knee injury during last year's World Cup in the UAE where Australia won the title for the first time. He has constantly been given the backing of the hierarchy including new head coach Andrew McDonald and national selector George Bailey - with a lot of value put on his leadership - but Watson has warned it risks becoming a major problem later this year.
"Unfortunately, right now, the way he's batting and what I've seen during this IPL, he's batting nowhere near his best," Watson, an assistant coach with Delhi Capitals, told the Grade Cricketer. "Whatever is going on, the things he's working on with his technique and mindset, it's changed a lot from when he's been at his best.
"I believe if he's not scoring runs in the lead up to the T20 World Cup, and it's along similar lines to what we saw here for KKR, you can't pick him. At the moment he's so far out of touch, no matter how good your captaincy skills are, if he continues to bat the way he is, it would be a big liability, especially as an opener.
"It's such an important role to get the team off to a flying start. He's been so incredibly good - I've batted with him when he got 150 against England at the Rose Bowl, he is a world-class batsman, an incredible short-form batsman - but just to see where his game is now it's a fair way away from that. I believe it should be the team's picked and then the captain gets picked from there, especially if you are a long way out of touch."
The latest endorsement of Finch from the Australia set-up came last month when the squads were announced for the tour of Sri Lanka which takes place next month. Australia are also set to have T20I series against New Zealand, India, West Indies and England before their title defence which starts on October 22.
"I think his captaincy is really important, but there's so much cricket between now and the World Cups that I'm just really confident that Finchy will get back into his groove," Bailey said. "It's one of those things, I don't think you forge a reputation and the record that he has over such a long period of time to not know that there's a hell of a lot of talent and skill and, as I said, he's a really important player in that team, let alone the captaincy."
Another captaincy debate that has returned in recent weeks is that of David Warner's lifetime ban from holding any leadership role within Australian cricket for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal. A report in News Corp said that it was a situation that was likely to be reassessed again with a view to encouraging Warner to captain a BBL team in the latter stages of his career.
Watson, who is also president of the Australian Cricketers' Association, was very firm on his view that Warner should be allowed to captain four years after the incident in Cape Town.
"This is my opinion, and I know it's a big opinion within Australian cricket in certain parts, he's served his time," Watson said. "He was involved in a big mistake but he's been severely punished in so many ways. The way they hung him out to dry and everything really came back on him, the financial impact that it had on him, and publicly, he's been absolutely smashed across the board.
"He's done his time. Everyone makes mistakes. Some are more public than others, some are worse than others, but you are allowed to forgive. I think it's absurd that he's not allowed to captain a team, whether it's a Big Bash team or an Australian team, if he's the right person at the right time. Think it's absolutely ridiculous."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo