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Fit-again Finch feared his career was 'over'

Australia limited-overs opener reveals recent injury fears and details his aspirations for more international cricket

Aaron Finch, Australia's leading runs-scorer during the recent five-match ODI campaign in India, genuinely feared his international career might be finished when he suffered another frustrating soft tissue injury at the start of that series.

Having damaged his right calf while playing for English county Surrey in the aftermath of Australia's early exit from the ICC Champions Trophy last June, Finch suffered a recurrence of the problem at training soon after the reigning world champions arrived in India six weeks later.

It was initially thought the 30-year-old opener might be forced to miss the entire ODI campaign, but he returned for the third game at Indore where he promptly peeled off an emphatic 124 (albeit in a losing cause) followed by scores of 94 and 32 at the top of the order.

However, in the months between feeling the pain of the initial leg strain and the euphoria of his eighth ODI century in his 83rd appearance for his country, Finch was left with little to occupy his time other than work on a rehabilitation program with the Bupa Support Team medical staff.

And for his mind to wander, taking him to some confrontingly bleak places along the way.

"I thought after the Champions Trophy, getting 68 against England in the last game, I had a real opportunity to cement my spot and go on and get a big hundred and I didn’t do that," Finch recently revealed to cricket.com.au.

"So obviously I thought my position was quite vulnerable, and then to injure my calf playing for Surrey I thought 'well that’s going to be my career over, I’m going to miss this Indian (ODI) series and someone else will come and take my spot and play well'.

"Then to … do my calf, just twinge it again, the day before the (first India warm-up) game, that was really, really frustrating.

"I thought right then that … I've blown it again.

"So I was really down for quite a while 'cos I just saw my one-day career just slip away, just like that pretty much."

WATCH: Finch: I had to convince them I could play

A route to recovery was mapped out by team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris in collaboration with strength and conditioning manager Aaron Kellett and doctor Richard Saw.

Once fears that Finch would be forced to return home early from India were put aside, the Victorian – who has endured a regular run of ill-timed soft-tissue injuries – set about fixing his mindset as well as his sore right calf.

Within a week, Finch had returned to training and soon after he had not only regained his place in the ODI line-up but finished the one-day leg of Australia's tour with 250 runs at an average of 83.33.

WATCH: Finch fires comeback century

A superior return to fellow top-order batters David Warner, Steve Smith, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis who had played all five games against India, as opposed to Finch's three.

Given that he's no stranger to injury enforced absences from the Australia team, as well as knowing how it feels to be axed by the selectors, Finch claims it's the former scenario that generates much greater angst and uncertainty than the latter.

He held great confidence that Hilton Cartwright, the Test-capped all-rounder who filled in as ODI opener during Finch's rehabilitation, would perform with aplomb (he scored 1 and 1) which also meant he feared that his place at the top of the order might then be bequeathed to Cartwright.

"You think about a lot of things like that when you're injured," Finch said.

"When you're dropped, you don’t tend to think that much because ... you have confidence you're a good player and you're only a couple of scores away from being back in the side.

"When you're injured and somebody else comes in and takes your spot - and you hope the best for them because obviously they're there to win a game – (but) you have a lot of weird feelings.

"And a lot of downtime when you're injured as well, to think about every possible negative scenario as opposed to any good ones that can possibly happen."

So quickly did Finch's frame of mind alter in the wake of his India return, he began the Australian first-class summer with half an eye on the number six batting berth that has yet to be finalised for the opening Magellan Ashes Test in Brisbane next month.

Which would represent a significant change of heart from the nation's selectors, given that since his debut for Victoria a decade ago Finch has played less than half as many Sheffield Shield matches for the Bushrangers (46) as his combined tally of ODI and T20I appearances for Australia (118).

"To play well, win games for Australia, win every possible series in which I get the opportunity to represent Australia," Finch sad when asked to outline his goals for the 2017-18 season.

"And start off the Shield season as well as I can and who knows, maybe … there's talk of one or two spots being available in the batting line-up.

"Boof (Australia men's coach Darren Lehmann) did say whoever is in the best form will play, so there's three Shield games before that first (Test) side's picked to maybe try and … get six hundreds would be nice.

"Six innings, six hundreds - would be nice to put your hand up."

Sadly for Finch, two of those innings have already elapsed for returns of 41 and a golden duck in Victoria's season opener against Queensland at the Gabba, where the first Ashes Test will begin on November 23.

WATCH: Finch among Victoria victims

But the good news for Finch and his short-term aspirations is that he made it through the game physically unscathed.

Meaning one less demon to conquer in realising his distant dream.