SYDNEY: Australia coach Justin Langer is hoping one-day captain Aaron Finch will get the “breaks” he needs to turn around a lean summer.
Finch has made scores of 6 in the first two ODIs against India – bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar both times – to leave him with a top score of 41 in five one-dayers this season. This came after low returns in Test cricket, which cost him his place for the final game against India, and the preceding T20Is, where he managed 62 runs in four matches.
The last thing Australia need heading into the World Cup is for their captain to be short of runs, amid the other questions that need answering about the side, and Langer believes the batsman is still adjusting to having played all formats in a short span of time.
“There’s not a lot of players who play all three forms of the game now,” Langer pointed out. “This is brand new territory for him. He’s captain of the white-ball teams and playing Test cricket. He won’t be far off. When he gets going, he scores 100s.
“He’s working so hard on it. He just needs a few breaks. Every now and then you need a little break, and he’ll be away again.”
While Finch’s downturn in limited-overs cricket may be attributed to his stint with the Test side and his acknowledgement that it led to him over-training, one player who has been able to divorce the formats is Shaun Marsh.
Langer lauded Marsh for having the makings of a great one-day batsman after he hit 131 in 123 balls in a losing cause against India in the second ODI.
Marsh’ century on a sweltering day in Adelaide was his fourth hundred in the format in eight innings and his average of 42.32 is currently the seventh best for an Australia batsman with at least 50 ODI innings – sitting between the banned duo of David Warner and Steven Smith.
In the end, Marsh’s century was not enough as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni masterminded India’s series-levelling chase with four balls to spare. All four of his recent hundreds have come in defeat, but at a time when gains have been hard to find in Australia’s white-ball cricket, Marsh is a major plus for Langer.
“He’s turning into a great one-day international player,” Langer said. “You’d like to see him get 100s and win, it would have been a perfect day for him. After not being selected for the next Test series against Sri Lanka, with that pressure a lot of guys can shrivel up, but he hasn’t, he’s stood tall. He’s working really hard, he’s had a couple of good innings now. I’m really proud of Shaun.”
Marsh spent all but seven overs in the field in Adelaide as temperatures touched 45 degrees in the middle, a feat matched by Kohli with his matchwinning hundred. “What I’ve loved about him is his elite fitness and the fact he can get 130 in 40 degrees, at 35 years old, that’s a great tribute to him as well,” Langer said.
Marsh’s stand of 94 with Glenn Maxwell had put Australia on track for a total of over 300 before a late collapse. Maxwell contributed 48 off 37 balls, which showed what he was capable of from No. 7 and ensured the debate about his batting position would rumble on.
“There’s a lot of debate about Maxi, but I think that’s the perfect position for him. The other night, he came in late, but that’s actually a good sign,” Langer said. “If he can come in and put the finishing touches like he does, it’s always a nervous time for the opposition.
“I honestly think, despite the debate, that’s his best spot in our team for us at the moment, and we’ll flick him in every now and then when we need a little cameo.
“He’s probably the best fielder in the world, we love it, his energy is contagious. He’s got good leadership qualities. He brings a lot (to the middle), he bowled well tonight, he fields well. He will be a very important part of our team if we are to win the World Cup.”