Australia can’t do Finch’s brilliance justice in yet another disappointing loss

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Australia once again let slip a strong position to go 3-0 down yesterday in their five-match ODI series in India.

    Batting first, the tourists posted a below-par total of 6-293 on a pitch bulging with runs which offered zero help to any style of bowler.

    It was a disappointing finish considering Australia had been in a great position to make 350-plus thanks to a 154-run stand between Aaron Finch (124 from 125 balls) and Steve Smith (63 from 71 balls).

    At 1-224, with 73 balls remaining, Australia had the chance to post a truly monstrous total before a mixture of poor batting and fine bowling saw the tourists stumble.

    Aside from left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who gave up 75 from his ten overs, all of the Indian bowlers were disciplined. This was particularly evident in the final dozen overs when they choked the Aussie run rate and drew some loose shots.

    Australia will, however, be delighted to see the manner in which Finch played. The burly opener missed the first two matches with injury and was fortunate to even be picked for this tour, having averaged 25 from his previous 26 ODIs.

    During that slump, Finch batted with the same impatience which he had shown during his unsuccessful start to ODI cricket. In the first 18 ODIs of his career, he averaged just 30, with this poor return due to his desire to bludgeon the bowlers from ball one.

    Then Finch adapted his game and began to build innings, seeking to attack only the bad balls until he was well set. This wiser approach bore fruit and, from late 2013 to early 2016, Finch made over 1500 runs at an average of 43, with six tons from just 38 matches.

    Australia's Aaron Finch leaves the field after scoring 5 runs during the second 20Twenty international cricket match between England and Australia at the Riverside Ground, Chester-Le-Street, northeast England, on August 31, 2013. England, after losing the toss, made 195 for five in the second and final Twenty20 international at Chester-le-Street. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES


    This coincided with a strong run of performances by the Australian team, including a dominant victory at the 2015 World Cup. Over the past 18 months, Australia’s form has been patchy, with the lack of input from Finch a major factor.

    During that period he reverted back to his earlier, unsuccessful method of attempting to manufacture boundaries from good balls. That was the bad Finch.

    Yesterday, the good Finch returned. The batsman who is prepared to respect dangerous deliveries, to work the ones and twos until the bowler strays into his hitting zones. He crawled to 26 from 43 balls as the Indian seamers maintained a testing line and length.

    Finch stayed calm and suddenly the game opened up for him as it so often does for a batsman who bides their time. He got hold of leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, launching him for a sequence of boundaries, and batted with supreme confidence from then on.

    While one innings is far too small a sample size to declare that Finch is back to his best, that knock must surely have reminded the Victorian that when he remains composed he gets rewarded.

    Finch would have been bitterly disappointed with the manner in which Australia squandered his efforts. With short boundaries, an exceptionally swift outfield and a road of a pitch, Indore demanded a score of 330-plus against India, who are the strongest chasing team in ODI cricket.

    By the time India had cruised to 0-139 in the 22nd over, the match was all but over.

    Australia’s cause was not helped by a relatively straightforward catch turfed by new wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb. Matthew Wade’s replacement stretched low to his right for an unsuccessful one-handed effort and would have been relieved when the beneficiary, Rohit Sharma, was dismissed soon after for 71.

    A pair of quick wickets to Australian pacemen Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins provided slight hope but that was extinguished by a brilliant knock of 78 from 72 balls by blossoming all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

    Employing equal parts patience and aggression, Pandya killed off the Australian challenge.

    Australia’s attack again looked quite toothless without champion fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. In the end, however, it was the meek effort of the Australian middle order which set them on course for yet another ODI defeat.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (48)

    • Roar Rookie

      September 25th 2017 @ 6:42am
      savage said | September 25th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      I remember last india tour of Australia in jan 2016.At that time Australia were easily best batting side in odis whereas india were struggling with their middle order.I wonder what has happened now.Players like cartwright,handscomb,stoinis,Head just aren’t threatening any team.

      • Columnist

        September 25th 2017 @ 6:57am
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 25th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

        “Players like cartwright,handscomb,stoinis,Head just aren’t threatening any team”

        Stoinis is averaging 95 in ODIs and Head 38, I’d say they’re going ok.

        • September 25th 2017 @ 10:15am
          Adam said | September 25th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Totally agree Ronan stonis and head are good what would you think about Mitch marsh coming back in for Maxwell when we play England later this year or next year not that much of a fan of marsh but have to say he is better than Maxwell and we could have 6 solid bowlers and finch has averaged over 45 in his 2017 season.

          • September 25th 2017 @ 11:51am
            Bakkies said | September 25th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

            Cartwright hasn’t batted in the middle order in his two one dayers to date. The problem started with promoting Maxwell to four as Smith threw his wicket away due to Maxwell chewing up deliveries. It was the only reckless shot Smith played and he was going along beautifully.

            • September 25th 2017 @ 1:40pm
              matth said | September 25th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

              It was ironic. Maxwell has been criticised here and elsewhere for going at it from ball one in a brainless fashion. This time he tries to start slow and play himself in, puts pressure on his partner and then gets out anyway. I would say his mind is not clear as he listens to various pieces of advice and it’s affecting his output. It’s interesting that as he has achieved some form of success in test cricket, his limited overs form has fallen away.

              At this point I agree Mitch Marsh would be the better bet in limited overs cricket. Which is a shame, because Maxwell has so much upside.

              • September 25th 2017 @ 1:50pm
                BurgyGreen said | September 25th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                If Maxwell becomes the Test cricketer he is capable of being I won’t mind if that means he’s no longer a force in ODI cricket. But I think it’s clear he needs a batting coach who will give him confidence and simple, consistent advice. At the moment it feels like he’s being told to “play his natural game” and then in the same breath criticised for “reckless” strokeplay.

              • September 25th 2017 @ 5:41pm
                Bakkies said | September 25th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                His shot selection decision making gets him undone. Chasing wide ones outside of off stump trying to heave it over cow corner or reverse sweeping balls off the wrong length. Sort of nonsense that threatened to end Andrew Symonds career prematurely until he got a wake up call from Ponting.

              • Columnist

                September 25th 2017 @ 6:33pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 25th 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

                Matth you’re right Maxwell may be unsure what is asked of him sometimes.

                Except for yesterday when, promoted to number 4 with a dozen overs left, it was clear he just needed to swing at everything.

                His stodgy innings meant Smith had to abandon his anchor role and go for a big shot, which caused his dismissal.

              • September 25th 2017 @ 9:16pm
                Perry Bridge said | September 25th 2017 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

                If you follow Dean Jones’ old theory – that in the 40-50 over stretch that you start going for it when you get to 40 + the number of wickets down. So at 2-243 in the 42nd over it was time for Smith to go for it.

                It was also the point at which Maxwell would launch too.

                Don’t blame Maxwell that Smith played a shot.

                Unfortunately both players got it wrong the first they tried something – by contrast in England Moeen Ali managed to slog everything out of the middle.

            • September 25th 2017 @ 4:59pm
              Ben said | September 25th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

              Head hasn’t been better this series.
              Maxwell if he got going would have got us past 300.

    • September 25th 2017 @ 7:15am
      Cory said | September 25th 2017 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      Well done Finchy.

      But if I am not mistaken, this loss makes it the worst run of loses in overseas ODI’s in the history of Australian cricket.

      It seems we are growing accustomed to mediocrity.

      • September 25th 2017 @ 1:41pm
        matth said | September 25th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Not accustomed to it I hope. i think we are still pretty cranky about it. But at this point we have to acknowledge that India are simply the better limited overs side at the moment, particularly at home.

    • September 25th 2017 @ 7:51am
      Yowie said | September 25th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Another loss to the Australian training squad in this waste of time but money earning inappropriately scheduled series. India’s team effort with a high point being Pandya’s performances shows how the Australian players aren’t as motivated, confident or team orientated. Past and present poor management from the adminstrators and selectors is being realised by sub-par captaincy and cricket played.

      • September 25th 2017 @ 11:04am
        Marto said | September 25th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        Motivation ?? I think the player’s agents need to get involved here and we have new stats for the game – “Player cost-benefit analysis strike rate”.
        A player with low performance: low salary ratio may have a better strike rate than one with a low performance: enormous salary. This could be included in future team selections and even assist with pay adjustments and future strike actions..
        And on the money motivation factor, we may even now be at a stage where players can be traded across international borders – unions permitting. I have no idea where my cynicism has come from.

    • September 25th 2017 @ 8:35am
      Christo the Daddyo said | September 25th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Smith’s constant statement in press conferences that these sorts of performances are “unacceptable” are starting to look very hollow indeed. The performances clearly ARE acceptable!

      • September 25th 2017 @ 11:31am
        BurgyGreen said | September 25th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        Yeah seems like he says it every second game. What’s being done to improve it?

        • September 25th 2017 @ 12:07pm
          George said | September 25th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          Lehmann doesn’t seem to be accountable whatsoever.

          • September 25th 2017 @ 12:28pm
            BurgyGreen said | September 25th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

            Yep it’s quite astonishing how many genuine disasters he’s survived while players and selectors have been axed left, right and centre.

            • September 25th 2017 @ 1:40pm
              Ouch said | September 25th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

              Time for Dizzy

              • September 25th 2017 @ 1:51pm
                BurgyGreen said | September 25th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                Yep Dizzy would be my pick. Justin Langer I think would also be good at holding his players to a high standard.

              • September 25th 2017 @ 2:05pm
                Adam said | September 25th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                No to Justin langer he’ll have the whole WA side in there.

    • Roar Guru

      September 25th 2017 @ 9:12am
      Ryan H said | September 25th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      Another disappointment, Australia really should’ve made 40-50 more given where they were at. A terrific platform wasted almost

    • Roar Rookie

      September 25th 2017 @ 9:21am
      DJ DJ said | September 25th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      Ronan I enjoy your analysis. You look at the data and make reasonable conclusions. Missing a lot in current journalism. Nice work. (The selectors also responded to your calls for Handscomb and less all rounders… let’s hope we win a couple soon with a better balanced team)

      • Columnist

        September 25th 2017 @ 6:38pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 25th 2017 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

        Thanks DJ DJ, Australia’s batting lineup did look much better balanced yesterday, even if the middle order didn’t get the job done.

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