Mitchell Johnson: Australia Twenty20 captain Aaron Finch should consider retiring if selectors won’t drop him
If new Australia coach Andrew McDonald and the selectors aren’t prepared to move on opener Aaron Finch ahead of this year’s Twenty20 World Cup, then it might be time for our captain to call it a day himself.
Finch, 35, has had a great international career in the shorter formats and I’ve always enjoyed watching him play.
But there comes a time when you’ve got to start thinking about what’s best for the team. And as Australia prepare to defend their World Cup crown at home, that might mean the team playing without him.
Finch must be thinking about international retirement and his next phase. If not, it’s something he needs to contemplate pretty seriously pretty soon.
If any other player had endured the form struggles Finch has over the past couple of years, he would have been dropped by now.
Yet it seems because he is the skipper, his selection is automatic regardless of runs. Even the captain must run out of chances eventually.
It was a sad sight watching Finch bat during the Indian Premier League tournament. Having been thrown a lifeline by Kolkata night Riders, his ninth IPL club, he made 86 runs in five knocks and for most of his runs in one innings of 58 to go with scores of 7, 3, 4 and 14.
Finch seemed to bat like a man with nothing to lose. At times he would be taking guard a metre outside the stumps and then charging. At other times he would open his front leg up and tee off through the off side, yet there was no shape about his shots.
None of it looked like an Australian captain in sync with his game. He’s been out of form for a long time and seems to be really struggling with the ball that swings back into him, or just swings in general.
Maybe the national selectors are worried about who they replace him with as skipper. It would be asking too much of Pat Cummins to captain in all three formats long-term, but Cummins could do it for the World Cup if they wanted to buy time to assess their options going forward.
If Finch played his way out of the World Cup reckoning during the IPL, then powerful finisher Tim David surely played his way into calculations.
While the West Australian doesn’t hold a State contract and has never played a first-class match, his impact as a devastating T20 hitter is undeniable.
David faced just 86 balls in his finishing role with Mumbai Indians, hitting 16 of them for six. His strike rate of 216 is the highest recorded in any edition of the IPL for a batsman who faced at least 50 balls.
David was dead and buried in terms of Australian cricket a couple of years ago after being let go by Perth Scorchers and his stunning re-emergence underlines the opportunity as an alternate pathway that Twenty20 cricket provides.
We crossed paths at the Scorchers and he always seemed to be to be a great guy. He was a good listener and looked like a player who was intent on improving.
If David is to slot into Australia’s middle order ahead of the World Cup, the question then is who comes out?
But if someone’s in form, you pick them. And David has been in form for a long time now, starring in diverse conditions in Australia, Pakistan and India.
The selectors always talk about picking players on performances and he couldn’t have done any more.
New boys Gujarat Titans will take on the Rajasthan Royals in Sunday night’s final, after Jos Buttler’s fourth century of the tournament in Friday night’s eliminator fired Rajasthan into the decider.
It’s hard to imagine this is the same Buttler who struggled to make a run or hold a catch and looked completely disinterested during the Ashes in Australia last summer.
I’m unsure whether he was affected by personal issues, but he had a torrid time and didn’t look as though he wanted to be here.
T20 cricket is just his game and he swings through the line of the ball beautifully. Buttler hits the ball as hard and as far as Chris Gayle at his peak.
When he is on, he is as unstoppable as anyone and just about looks impossible to dismiss. As a bowler, you’re left to hope you bowl your best ball but it’s really just hope. Deep down, you’re admiring the show.
There’s again talk of reviving him in Test cricket but it’s time for England to leave Buttler to what he does best.
Matthew Wade, who has been batting at No.3 for Gujarat, looks like being the only Australian in the final after Royal Challengers Bangalore, featuring Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood, were eliminated on Friday night.
Having not played in the IPL for more than a decade before being snapped up this season, Wade will feature in the decider in front of a monster crowd.
His batting has just got better with age and it’s another great chapter in his late-career revival in the shortest format.
2022 IPL FINAL
Gujarat Titans v Rajasthan Royals
Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Sunday 10.30pm (WA time)
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