The team was going through a tough phase when Aaron Finch was handed the captaincy of the Australian ODI team in 2018. Steve Smith and David Warner were banned for a year due to their roles in the ball tampering controversy in South Africa, after the team lost two of its key batsmen.
Australia was the world one-day champions, but they ended a tough phase as the team tried to cope with heavyweight absentees. But while Smith was around, Australia still lacked the aura of dominance and all-conquest that previous sides enjoyed under the reigns of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and, to a lesser extent, Michael Clarke.
This is reflected in Smith’s one-day captaincy record, as he managed to win only 52 percent of the 51 matches he led the team. Although Australia expected Warner and Smith to return for the 2019 ODI World Cup, the team needed some spark. Speed in lead up to big tournament.
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This spark was provided by his new captain Aaron Finch. The opener was in international cricket for some time, but was never considered in the elite list of international batsmen.
By the time India recorded their first bilateral series victory on Australian soil in January 2019, the five-time World Cup winners had lost six ODIs as well, with an early exit from the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
As Australia tried to recover from poor results, brick-to-brick finches began to build their legacy. He led Australia from behind the victory in India and then blanked the Pakistanis before leading the team to the semi-finals of the 2019 ICC World Cup, where they were defeated by eventual champions England.
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It lost its favor in India earlier this year before the whitewash in South Africa. But they managed to defeat World Cup runners-up New Zealand before the Kovid-19 enforced lockdown and then beat world champions England before coming home and beating India in two back-to-back matches to win the ODI series.
Finch’s captain and his bat made as much turnaround as possible.
The Australian captain is actually the second highest run-scorer in ODIs after 2019, just 6 runs shy of Virat Kohli, which could be a big surprise to a lot of people. While the world was decided upon the return of Warner and Smith, Finch continued to score runs for his team.
He has scored 1739 runs in 35 matches since the beginning of 2019, with 6 centuries and 10 fifties to his name. Only Rohit Sharma has scored more centuries in ODIs during this period.
Not only this, 2019 was also the first time Finch crossed the thousand-run mark in ODI cricket in a calendar year, and he is all set to finish by 2020 with his highest batting average in the format in a certain year.
Finch’s continuation at the top of the order is a huge reason behind Australia’s revival with performances by Smith, Warner and the bowlers. Add to the fact that Finch has had the best strike rate in the first 10 overs of a match since 2016 and you know that the Australian limited-overs captain is firing on all cylinders.
He may not be the most talented batsman of his generation, but Aaron Finch has certainly made a mark in international cricket and, like Tim Paine, he will be remembered as an Australian great who took the reins of the team in a difficult time. Handled and triggered a change.
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