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Aaron Finch to move to Australia’s ODI middle order

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Australia look set to unveil a revamped ODI batting line-up in tomorrow’s series opener against England, with Aaron Finch moving to the middle order, Travis Head opening and Marcus Stoinis batting at three.

    The other major structural change could be playing five bowlers, with bowling all-rounders Ashton Agar and Michael Neser batting at seven and eight respectively.

    These alterations appear likely based on comments from new coach Justin Langer yesterday and also on the way Australia lined up in their two warm-up matches, when they defeated Sussex by 57 runs and then knocked off Middlesex by 101.

    Finch opened the batting – as he has done in all 88 of his ODIs to date – in the first match and made 78, but was then switched to number five against Middlesex, making 54 from 52 balls.

    His move to the middle order was significant, given Langer’s comments after the match, as reported by ESPNCricinfo.

    “Aaron Finch’s record opening the batting for the last five or six games for Australia, and against England, is just brilliant,” Langer said.

    “It’s hard, but the way he batted (in the middle order against Middlesex), one of the areas we need to get better at over at least the last year or so is in that middle order. Particularly against spin. We’re all aware of it.

    “He’s as fast as anyone between the wickets, which is a key focus for our one-day cricket. He’s fearless. He actually changes momentum of the game.”

    Langer also hinted Shaun Marsh would bat at four, with Stoinis becoming Australia’s new first drop, replacing the banned Steve Smith.

    Stoinis batted at number three in Australia’s most recent ODI against England and was impressive, anchoring his team’s innings with a knock of 87 from 99 balls. He again batted at three against Sussex and was man of the match with 110 from 112 balls.

    Stoinis has been a revelation in ODIs over the past 18 months, hammering 566 runs at 63, with a scorching strike rate of 104.

    Based on the clues dropped by Langer, this is the Australia XI I expect to turn out at The Oval in London:

    1. Travis Head
    2. D’Arcy Short
    3. Marcus Stoinis
    4. Shaun Marsh
    5. Aaron Finch
    6. Tim Paine (wk)
    7. Ashton Agar
    8. Michael Neser
    9. Andrew Tye
    10. Kane Richardson
    11. Billy Stanlake

    If this is the XI, it will be the first time in years that they field an ODI line-up without at least one of Finch, David Warner or Smith in the top three. Australia have built their ODI batting unit around that trio for the past five years.

    Short is set to be tasked with giving Australia a flying start against the new ball, filling the role which Warner has performed so brilliantly. The left hander made starts in both warm-up matches but could not go on with it, making 21 from 27 balls against Sussex and 18 from 12 balls against Middlesex.

    D'Arcy Short

    D’Arcy Short (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Head looks likely to partner him at the top after making 106 while opening against Middlesex. The South Australian opens the batting in domestic 50-over cricket and, including the match against Middlesex, has made 396 runs at 66 when opening for Australia. Head typically looks to get himself set before taking on the bowlers, which is why it will be important for Short to bat aggressively.

    Finch will be tasked with trying to fix Australia’s middle order worries. Over the past two years, Australia have frequently got off to good starts thanks to their strong top three of Warner, Finch and Smith.

    Time and again, however, their middle order has been unable to build on these platforms.

    That was evident in the first warm-up match, when Finch and Stoinis got Australia to 1-167 after 30 overs. From there, Australia were in a prime position to make 330-plus, but instead their middle order crumbled and they made only 9-277.

    Along with Stoinis, Finch is Australia’s best player of slow bowling and Langer seems to think he can help combat England tweakers Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, who have a habit of slowing down teams in the middle overs.

    Langer also indicated he was keen on Australia fielding five bowlers, which they did in both warm-up matches, with Agar batting at seven in the first match and at six in the second.

    “I’ve always seen having that extra bowling option work well in domestic cricket, particularly if your seven and eight can bat a bit and we’ve seen that with Ashton Agar and Michael Neser, they can bat a bit,” Langer told the media on Sunday.

    This is a significant change in tactics, Australia long having favoured playing four bowlers, with the remaining ten overs sent down by batting all-rounders like Stoinis, Head, Maxwell and the injured Mitch Marsh.

    Playing five bowlers would be a gambleb considering the middle order has been Australia’s biggest weakness, but now is a good time to experiment.

    Missing six of their best XI, and playing away from home against the world’s number one ODI side, the Aussies have little to lose.

    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

    State of Origin 2 is here, with the Blues looking to wrap the 2018 series up and the Maroons hoping to keep it alive and force a decider. Follow along with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 live scores and blog.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • June 12th 2018 @ 7:15am
      Ben said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      Based on Langer Maxwell will play and short the most likely to miss out if they add a extra bowler.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 8:25am
        I no said | June 12th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Exactly Ben they not gonna move finch from opener short will miss if we’re going only 5 batsman then its the most consistent ones than and short ain’t.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 9:03am
      Paul said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      That’s a pretty fair lineup, given the players who are touring. You couldn’t pick Maxwell right now, simply because he’s out of form (again) and the 5 bowlers mimics England’s lineup to a degree, where they choose batsmen who can bowl a bit. That tactic though was found out in Scotland, so having guys who bowl first then bat a bit, might be the better option.

      As you say Ronan, it’s game one and Australian has nothing to lose.

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 10:01am
        JamesH said | June 12th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        I’m not excusing Maxwell’s cheap dismissals, but why do they keep batting him so high in the order?!? Number 4 is where you put a rock – a player you can build an innings around. Put Paine there and slot Maxwell in at 6 or 7. Any of Marsh, Finch or Head would be a better option there too.

        In ODI cricket Maxwell is much better as a finisher, not an accumulator. Honestly, this is banging-your-head-against-a-brick-wall stuff.

        • Roar Guru

          June 12th 2018 @ 10:02am
          JamesH said | June 12th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

          Ideally the order would be:

          Paine
          Short
          Head
          Finch
          Stoinis
          Maxwell

          or

          Short
          Head
          Stoinis
          Paine
          Finch
          Maxwell

        • Columnist

          June 12th 2018 @ 11:19am
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

          JamesH I’ve long thought the key with Maxwell is using him as a floating batsman and utilising him at the correct time.

          If Australia are in a weak position where they need to consolidate hold Maxwell back and instead send in a steadier batsman like Paine.

          If Australia are in a strong position – say the openers have just put on a 100-run stand – then promote Maxwell to tee off and try to hammer home the advantage.

          Ideally you want Maxwell to be batting with complete freedom to go after the bowlers. This can be achieved by either holding him back until later in the innings, or by promoting him to be a pinch hitter after the openers or top 3 give you a great start.

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2018 @ 12:05pm
            JamesH said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            I don’t disagree – that’s essentially a more flexible version of what I’m saying.

            Unfortunately, it’s not what we’ve been doing. Maxwell has batted at 4 in both games because that’s where he’s lined up. It hasn’t been a ‘let’s send him in to tee off’ promotion; it’s just been ‘let’s put Maxwell at 4 as one of our senior batsman’. He should never appear in that position in the starting lineup, particularly when Paine and/or Finch are listed below him.

            • Roar Guru

              June 12th 2018 @ 1:14pm
              Matt H said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

              I’d actually love to see Maxwell get a run at opening. He has scored a T20 international century opening for Australia. If he went in with the same mentality, with all that space while the field is up he could really get us going.

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2018 @ 1:36pm
                JamesH said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

                I don’t doubt that he could do it but out problem is we have lots of options in the top 3 and not many at 4-7. In that sense, Maxwell is far more valuable late in the innings.

              • Columnist

                June 12th 2018 @ 2:16pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | June 12th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                I agree with JamesH, there are very few cricketers in Australia who have the ability to blast attacks in the final 15 overs of an ODI innings when the ball is soft, the field is set deep and specialist death bowlers are operating.

                Maxwell does it probably better than anyone else in Australia.

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2018 @ 3:00pm
                Matt H said | June 12th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                Fair call James and Ronan. Maybe opening in T20 would be his go, where on a good day he could score 100 in 15 overs himself.

              • June 12th 2018 @ 6:59pm
                BurgyGreen said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

                What about swapping Short and Maxwell? I feel that Short has been miscast as an opener anyway, and has played a lot of his domestic cricket outside the BBL down at 7 or 8. Hopefully, if he’s coming in with 10-15 overs left, the spinners will have mostly been bowled out and he can try to smash the quick bowlers

    • June 12th 2018 @ 9:04am
      Ben said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      I don’t mind finch in the middle order.
      Maybe Shaun marsh can open but he would have to be more aggressive than last game.
      Head played good but had a low strike rate.
      We need a player like Roy to get us off to a good start.
      I would like Maxwell to open.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 9:17am
      Paul said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Ronan, it just occurred to me. Where does this leave your call for Paine to open the batting? I thought the logic was the get him into a position where he could have a go when the field was up, rather than accumulate at a time when big hitting was required?

      • Columnist

        June 12th 2018 @ 11:09am
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        Hi Paul that was just my logic, obviously the selectors seem to have different ideas.

        I don’t agree with the squad they selected for this series and I think they’d be mad to field that above lineup, removing a batsman from the team when batting has been their problem.

        But, who knows, maybe it will work. It will certainly be fascinating to watch.

    • Columnist

      June 12th 2018 @ 11:46am
      Ronan O'Connell said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      Meanwhile, the good news for Aussie Test team is that Renshaw is continuing to dominate Division 1 of County Cricket.

      Renshaw scored another ton for Somerset on the weekend to be the only batsman in the competition with 3 tons for the season. He’s made 411 runs at 59 so far, at a swift strike rate of 70.

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 1:16pm
        Matt H said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        I’m loving Renshaw’s progress and his ability to shift gears, which he hasn’t really shown for Australia yet.

        • June 12th 2018 @ 9:06pm
          Justsaying said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

          Khawaja also in great form hitting a century on debut for Glamorgan, he will be key for our ashes attack next year

          • June 13th 2018 @ 11:37am
            Stephen said | June 13th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Fantastic news on khawaja, i am surprised Ronan hasn’t made any comments on khawaja’s century

            • June 13th 2018 @ 11:40am
              Stephen said | June 13th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

              Apologies Ronan, i didn’t see your comments below on khawaja

    • June 12th 2018 @ 11:58am
      Tanmoy Kar said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      You are right, with Maxwell in such a poor form ( even in IPL), he should be dropped at least for the first two matches.

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