9 months ago, won a trophy as a captain, now his position in the eleven in doll drums.
Posted June 28, 2022 in Cricket.
Not every day do we talk about replacing a player who lead his team towards their maiden T20 World Cup less than 12 months ago. Such is the strange case of Australia’s white ball captain, Aaron James Finch. The 35-year-old debuted way back in 2011 as a 24-year-old hard-hitting middle order finisher and tasted success quite early in his career. A quick fire 33 balls 53 from "The finisher Finch" helped Australia win by a narrow margin of 4 runs against their arch rivals, England. Finch’s clean hitting ability helped him earn a promotion in the batting order, and he was asked to open the innings for Australia in T20, and as they say, the rest is in the history books.
An opener with a T20i career batting average of 35.29 and a fiery strike rate of 145.29 is a rare find. In fact, since 2011, Finch’s T20 average had never gone below 30 until 2021, when he averaged just 28.69 in the 17 games he played for Australia, including the T20 world cup in UAE. Finch was desperate for runs after failing to breach the 45-run mark in his previous seven innings, with 44 against England being his best in the entire 2021 T20 World Cup. In the last three world cup games, Finch had scores of 9, 0 and just 5 runs in the all-important finals. In 2021, Finch could only accumulate 459 runs in 17 innings at a below-par strike rate of 125.07. It’s not just one odd bad year that has sparked the fire for a replacement of Australia’s captain. Since 2018, when he averaged 40.85 and stroked at 176.41, Finch’s average and strike rate have both crashed down faster than the cryptocurrency prices. Finch’s year-on-year strike rate trend has declined from 158.09 in 2019 to 138.97 in 2020 to 125.07 in 2021 to an all-time low of 121.67 in 2022.
Since his debut in T20 internationals, Finch has scored 20.34% of Australia’s total runs in T20 cricket with 17 fifties and two centuries. Finch is also only the second Australian to have scored two or more centuries in T20 cricket. A deep dive analysis of Finch’s mode of dismissal showed that the Australian opener has been dismissed caught out 60.5% (49) times, followed by bowled 19 (23.5%) times. Finch’s weakness against the incoming delivery is as well-known a problem as global warming, yet we are all waiting for magical results on its own. Finch’s matchup batting first and batting second is like petrol prices in Hong Kong v/s Venezuela; the contrast is more than 18%. In the first innings, he has played 37 innings, scoring a mammoth 1566 runs at a strike rate of 151.45, averaging 46.06, and in the second innings, the average comes crashing down to just 27.43, where finch has accumulated 1289 runs in 55 innings that he has batted second. Notably, in his 11-year-old T20 career with 92 innings, Finch has won man of the match in just six innings. That’s just 15.3% of the times a player of Finch’s quality has played a match winning innings.
Finch's failure to deliver match-winning innings has resulted in him coming under the radar of Australian selectors, where young openers Ben McDermott, Josh Phillipe, and others are vying for a spot. The man with the highest score (172) in T20 international cricket has definitely been one of the major pillars of Australia’s growth, but in recent times he has also been one of the reasons for their decline. With the 2022 T20 world cup in Australia, Finches’ chances to make it into the eleven slumps further. The right-handed batter averages just 31.97 in the 35 innings he has played in home conditions v/s 37.08 in the 57 games that he has batted outside Australia. With fitness, age, and form everything going away from Finch, unlike the incoming deliveries that the bowlers target him with, only time will tell whether we will still see Finch don Australia’s yellow jersey or not ahead of the World Cup.
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