Aaron Finch named T20I captain for Sri Lanka series

Aaron Finch named T20I captain for Sri Lanka series

Aaron Finch, the Australian opener, has had a self-confessed “rollercoaster” of a last 12 months. One year ago, he was Australia’s permanent Twenty20 captain but was dumped ahead of the World T20 in favour of Steve Smith, the team’s skipper in the longer formats.

The 30-year-old has also been out of favour in the 50-over arena after being overlooked for Australia’s recent five-match series against Pakistan at home. However, things are starting to turn for the Victorian, who was recalled for the Chappell-Hadlee series and, unexpectedly, was Australia’s skipper for game one in Auckland on Monday (January 30) after stand-in captain Matthew Wade was a late withdrawal due to injury.

Finch’s resurgence continued on Tuesday (January 31) when he was appointed captain of Australia’s three-match Twenty20 International series against Sri Lanka starting on February 17. The hard-hitting opener will be at the helm of a weakened Australian side with the core of the team – headlined by leaders Steve Smith and David Warner – in India preparing for the four-Test series.

After a tumultuous 12-month period, Finch said he was excited to be leading Australia once again. “It’s been a rollercoaster from being captain leading up to the World Twenty20, being injured and then Steve (Smith) taking over the reins for that tournament but it’s something that, any time you get the chance to captain your country in any format, you’re very chuffed about,” he said. “We’ll be missing some big names, some of the biggest in world cricket, but you can’t dwell on that and it will be a fantastic opportunity for guys who’ve performed well in the Big Bash League to push their case for further inclusion, and inclusion in the other formats too.

“There are some extraordinary players around the country that will now get an opportunity and I think that’s only a good thing for Australian cricket,” he added.

Finch will work closely with acting head coach Justin Langer and his assistants Ricky Ponting and Jason Gillespie, who are all in temporary national roles.“I’ve had the pleasure of working with all three of them in the past, they all know a lot about the game and they’re highly respected,” Finch said. “They demand excellence from a group and it raises the bar. With guys playing and training in front of three greats of the game it makes them hungry to succeed and work at a higher level than they might have in the past.”

Australia has traditionally struggled in cricket’s shortest format but enjoyed a 2-0 victory in Sri Lanka last September. Finch didn’t play in those matches but watched closely from afar and believed Sri Lanka would present a formidable challenge.

“It was a different experience to sit and watch games and be able to take everything in rather than be wrapped up in the game as a player,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to assess their players and we will have some really clear plans going into the series.

“Sri Lanka have played some very good cricket and they’re a very talented side,” he added. “They’ve got guys who give it a whack, they’ve got guys who execute well with the ball and their spin speaks for itself.”

Trevor Hohns, interim chief national selector, said Finch was the “logical choice” for the role. “He’s done it before and he has a great deal of experience in the format as both a captain and a batsman,” he said. “When the squad is selected for this series we, as selectors, will obviously have one eye on the present and also one eye on the future, with the next World Twenty20 scheduled to take place in Australia.

“The Big Bash League has given us the opportunity to see plenty of exciting talent and it means we will have plenty to consider when we chose the players to join Aaron in the squad,” he added. “Twenty20 International cricket is a format we certainly need to improve in and so these three matches will be a good chance to move forward in this form of the game.”

Australia’s squad for the three-match series will be announced on Wednesday morning (February 1).