First Class Finch Bows Out In Altered Landscape
First class Aaron Finch, who called time on his international career on Tuesday, had his first brush with the elite stars of the global game when he faced Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in 2007.
The Indians were in whites but this was not a test match but a first-class match between Finch’s state side, Victoria, and the touring test squad at Melbourne’s suburban Junction Oval.
Such matches have become an anachronism over Finch’s long and distinguished career, but the erstwhile Australia limited overs captain still recalled the curtailed contest with fondness.
“It was amazing,” Finch said with a smile in Townsville last year. “It was meant to be a three-day game and 40 overs in, it was just rained out … But I got a stat in the game. Didn’t get a bat, didn’t get a bowl.”
That stat came courtesy of catch at mid-off to dismiss India opener Wasim Jaffer for a duck off the bowling of left-arm paceman Allan Wise. Although it was 11 years before Finch again faced India in whites during his brief test career, he went on to accumulate an impressive array of stats in the shorter formats.
A T20 and ODI World Cup winner, he twice held the record for the highest score in a Twenty20 international with his 172 against Zimbabwe in 2018, bettering his own mark of 156 against England in Southampton in 2013.
The limited-overs cricket that made his name, however, filled up the playing schedule and effectively killed off the first-class tour matches against states, counties and provinces in Australia and abroad.
“The tour games are something that have become less of a priority because guys tend to fly in later for tours,” Finch said. “The Big Bash is going longer and longer, which means the (Sheffield) Shield and the one-day competition gets condensed more and more.”
The last time a state played a full first-class fixture against a touring side in Australia was 2010, and these days tourists are more likely to face hand-picked invitational squads if they want a tune-up for tests.
“If it’s played in the right conditions and it’s a good-spirited game (and) not just a ‘bat-a-thon’ for the visiting team, then I think they’re very valuable,” Finch said. “I’d love to see a full eleven-on-eleven match but I think they are probably dying a little bit, aren’t they?”
The burly opener said that involving lower-ranked international teams in warm-up matches before major series could be a creative alternative.
“Even if it’s a short tri-series or something like that, where you’re playing, potentially, teams like Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands to continue to grow the game,” he said. “The more and more that we can commit to doing that, I think the better the health of world cricket can be.”