Opener Aaron Finch was on Tuesday named as Australia captain for the three-match Twenty20 international series against Sri Lanka, scheduled to start on February 17. With regular skipper Steven Smith leading Australia’s Test squad in the tour of India at the same time, Finch, who captained Australia in six T20Is between 2014 and 2016, has been handed the job for a second time. Finch was also named the captain of the Australia ODI team on Monday for the first match against New Zealand in Auckland after wicketkeeper Matthew Wade was ruled out due to back spasms.
With players like David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Matthew Wade unavailable for selection due to the Test tour of India, Finch — who captains the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League — will have make do with virtually a second string team.
“There’s not many bigger names in world cricket than that handful, especially in T20 cricket, there’s so much experience there,” Finch said upon his appointment.
“But you can’t dwell on that. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for guys who have performed well in the Big Bash to keep pressing their claims for other formats as well.”
“When you look at the guys who have performed well (for Australia recently) – the younger guys in particular – a lot of it has been through opportunity of other people being injured, and they’ve come in and done exceptionally well.”
“So I think that while there are some world-beaters missing out, there are some extraordinary young players around the country who will now get an opportunity, and that’s only a good thing for Australian cricket – to keep giving these guys exposure at the highest level,” Finch added.
Finch is not the only change in the Australia T20 squad, in terms of leadership, for the series against Sri Lanka, with Justin Langer named head coach and his former Test teammates Ricky Ponting (batting) and Jason Gillespie (bowling) named as his assistants.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with all three of them in the past: ‘JL’ (Langer) during the West Indies tour (last year) and at the very start of my career when he was still Australia’s batting coach; Ricky at the Mumbai Indians, albeit briefly before a snapped hammy sent me home; and a couple of years at Yorkshire with Jason Gillespie,” Finch said.
“They’re three guys who know a lot about the game. They’re three guys who are so highly respected – they just demand excellence from a group.”
“When you’ve got a group that will be coming together, it raises the bar. Training and playing in front of arguably one of the greatest of all time Ricky Ponting, JL and ‘Dizzy’ (Gillespie), it just makes (players) hungry to succeed and makes them hungry to train at a higher level than they might have in the past.”
The first match of the T20 series starts will be played on February 17 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground before heading to nearby Kardinia Park in Geelong – fittingly, Finch’s old stomping ground – two days later, and rounding out in Adelaide on February 22.