Michael Clarke has shut down calls to drop Aaron Finch as the Australian captain’s concerning form slump hit a new low in Thursday’s 113-run victory over New Zealand.
Steve Smith (61), Mitchell Starc (38), Adam Zampa (16) and Josh Hazlewood (23) came up with crucial knocks for the Australians after an early collapse, which included Finch failing to register a single run.
What makes Finch’s early dismissal more worrying is the fact his past seven ODI scores are now 0, 5, 5, 1, 15, 0 and 0, while his average in the format this year is 13.00.
Mark Waugh said Finch should still be given the final game of the series to prove himself and Clarke was of the same opinion speaking on ‘The Big Sports Breakfast’ on Friday.
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With the T20 World Cup coming up and Finch named as Australia’s captain, Clarke said it would case “more chaos” to drop him at this point.
Instead, Clarke said Finch should have another chance to put up a solid total in the hope it gives him a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the World Cup.
“It’s a tough time to change your captain a month out before the World Cup,” Clarke said.
“I think the selectors are hoping he can get a score and then he goes into that World Cup with confidence, we keep our structure and our plan for the World Cup and we dominate that and have success here in Australia.
“He needs runs, there is no doubt about it… you can’t drop Finchy out of the World Cup squad now that it has been selected. I’m assuming they’re looking at the one-day cricket different to the Twenty-20, so even if he makes no runs in this last one-day, that might be the end of his one-day career but I think they’ll certainly still start with him in the Twenty-20 World Cup.
“It’s a massive call to drop your captain a month out from a World Cup. I think that could cause more chaos.”
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Finch’s place in the T20 World Cup may be secure but there are more calls at this point for his position in the ODI set-up to be reconsidered.
Clarke though still maintained that the final game presents the perfect opportunity for Finch to get one final hit-out to build his confidence before the upcoming T20 World Cup in October.
“Twenty-20 is hard to get back into form,” he said.
“If you’re out of form you haven’t got much time to get used to the conditions, see the ball, if it’s moving, you’ve really got to go for it.
“That’s why I’m hoping Finch can just get a few runs in this third game at least when he walks out to bat in that Twenty-20 he’s got the confidence to take the opposition on because we’re going to need to to win the World Cup.”
Pat Cummins is certainly backing his teammate to bounce back in October, telling Fox Sports News that Finch has not lost any of his “aura” even in his current form slump.
“It’s something about being in professional sports, especially as a batter, you’re going to have times when you’re not riding high,” Cummins said.
“He’s a champion. He’s been around for a long time, a great leader of our team so I’m sure he’ll come out the other side. He’s someone you see on the team sheet and if he’s on your team, you’re very happy.
“He’s one of those match-winners you’re always worried about. He’s lost none of that aura.”
Finch attempted to be more aggressive on Thursday and it proved costly as he picked out Kane Williamson for what ended up a simple dismissal.
Clarke though said he felt for the Australian who was at least trying something different, even if it did not pay off.
“He needs runs, there is no doubt about it,” Clarke added.
“I feel for him because he’s trying. Even last night, he’s been caught in slip with the ball going away from him. So outside of the bat. Then he brought the ball back in last game and he got LBW. That’s the way he’s got out a lot in his career.
“So he’s worried about: ‘Oh my god, going away, edge, coming in, LBW’. He’s walked out last night and said: ‘You know what? I’m just going to see it and hit it. If it’s up, I’m going to play aggressive and try and get on top of this.
“The ball just held in the wicket a bit and he shanked it and got caught at mid-off. I felt for him because I know that feeling when you’re like: ‘Man everything I try, I just can’t buy a trick at the moment’. I really think he needs to find even a 30 or 40 in this last game but I’m backing him.”
As for the game itself, Clarke said the “horrible” nature of New Zealand’s collapse had him reaching for the remote to turn the television off, such was his shock at what was unfolding.
“New Zealand were horrible and don’t worry about the tail, New Zealand lost the game when Glenn Maxwell walked out to bat with Steve Smith and they went to their part-time spinner and their third change quick,” he said.
“They had to go back to [Trent] Boult, their strike weapons, whoever has got the wickets. Go back to their best bowlers and look to bowl Australia out for 90. They made the exact same mistake in the first game.
“They had the chance to crush Australia and they took their foot off and it cost them. Smitty was brilliant. Even Maxi. He built a partnership with Steve Smith which allowed us to get to a good enough total and then the tail wagged and then New Zealand’s batting, I had to turn it off.
“What was I watching? That sums up New Zealand’s attitude in this series. They’re not here to crush Australia, they’re not here to dominate them. New Zealand are meant to be the number one one-day team in the world. New Zealand are being scared to beat them.”