Image courtesy of: Sydney Morning Herald
“I didn’t go out with a plan to do that”
Ever since he smashed a record-breaking 156 off 63 balls, which included 11 boundaries and a record 14 sixes against England in the first Twenty20 International in Southampton, Australia opening batsman Aaron Finch has been on a tear, but what is the secret behind his recent success?
The answer: “I didn’t go out with a plan to do that, it was just one of those innings where I saw the ball well, and felt like I made a really good decision,” Finch told ESPNcricinfo. “I wanted to go out there and dominate as you do in T20 and get the side off to a good start, but it just unfolded pretty quickly and I couldn’t really rein it in after a while, I just kept going. One thing I’ve focused on is sticking to my game and my plans, and it was nice to have the support of the coaches and the captain to play my natural game.
“There’s times when it doesn’t work and you look like an idiot, but I’m prepared to wear that on the chin, and I’m sure that if I keep doing the right things, that I’ll have success. What was really pleasing was that I went back to my natural game and didn’t worry about perception or how I thought other people wanted me to play, and just played.”
However, while he barely looked to break a sweat during his sparkling innings of 156, the same cannot be said of Finch’s domestic record, where he averages 29.56 from 33 matches.
“That’s been an issue for a while obviously and I’d be stupid if I wasn’t aware of it, but I feel like I can play well at international level now,” Finch said. “It’s not a technical thing, just a mental thing with the four-day game. I feel as though I’ve made some good improvements in the last 12 months to be able to deal with that, and hopefully take that game to another level. To play Test cricket is my ultimate goal still, I definitely haven’t lost that ambition. I feel as though I’m now in a really good space to do that.”
Finch also attributed his red hot form to the support he has received from head coach Darren Lehmann and Twenty20 captain George Bailey.
“Boof’s [Lehmann] just encouraged me to play my natural game and really supported me with that, which obviously gives you a lot of confidence going into a series,” Finch said. “Just not being bothered by things as well. I think at other times I’ve been a bit scared to get out, worried about the consequences instead of just batting, and that wears you down after a little while and plays on your mind. It was really refreshing and great to have the support that I’ve been picked for a reason, how I play and the runs I’d scored. So he’s said continue doing that, continue to back yourself. If it comes off, it comes off and if it doesn’t, better luck next time.”
The 26-year-old also revealed that he received mountains of knowledge and seriously developed his game under India batsman Virender Sehwag and former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene during the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“Spending time with great players from the subcontinent is invaluable I think,” Finch said. “I spent two years with Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene, and I spoke to them a lot about batting in India and they were fantastic. Mahela averages 50 in Test cricket over many years for a reason. Just the different ideas they have on batting over there is quite unusual to how we’re brought up, on pretty good wickets generally. You can’t buy that kind of experience, to spend two months with those guys just training and talking cricket, different techniques and game plans you need to adjust to how India play cricket.”
Finch will now be hoping to transfer his dominance in international cricket to his Sheffield Shield matches for Victoria and, with the Ashes right around the corner, Finch is eager to impress the national selectors and secure the vacant number six spot on the national team roster.
“That’s the great thing about the upcoming Ashes and this India series – if guys score runs they’re going to be in the team, and I don’t think Boof’s made any secret of that,” Finch said. “He’s going to pick guys in form, regardless of history and perception. They want players in form, and whoever that is, hopefully I come back and get a couple of big hundreds in the Shield, and who knows. It’s not that far away I don’t think. I feel as though my game is ready to play well in four-day cricket and would be ready if I did get a gig in the Test team.”