New Zealand v Australia T20Is - Men
How Finch’s self-belief helped him break his rut
Australia's T20 captain made a timely return to form to steer Australia to a win that kept the T20 series alive and now has his sights set on levelling the series on Friday
4 March 2021, 11:33 AM AEST
Aaron Finch may have needed a little luck to break his barren spell in T20 cricket but, having returned to form in Wellington, it is full steam ahead for the Aussie skipper, starting with attempting to level the series with New Zealand on Friday evening.
Finch survived a first-ball review during Wednesday evening's must-win third T20I for a leg-before appeal – ball tracking returned an 'umpire's call' verdict – before going on to hit 69 from 44 balls in Australia's 64-run victory.
"It was just nice to get a few runs, it's been a while," said Finch, who in his previous 29 T20 innings across domestic and international cricket had managed only 495 runs at 17.06.
"I was just short of runs. It's never easy when you're trying to lead the side and you're not performing as well as you would like personally.
"But you always put the team first. I felt as though my captaincy has been pretty good throughout this period as well, right through the Big Bash.
"I obviously would have loved to have got some more but I was never doubting that I would never get runs again.
"T20 can be a brutal game at the best of times so just having the ability to take a step game and reassess my own game and go out there with as clear a mind as you can."
Finch's slump had echoes of the similar barren spell he endured in the lead-up to the 2019 ODI World Cup, with his battles with self-doubt and personal anguish about his performance well documented on The Test documentary.
Having endured that, this lean run saw Finch take a more measured path of self-assessment saw him evaluate his mental approach, rather than any technical tweaking.
"When you're searching for a score sometimes you can forget the absolute basics, you get a bit fixated on the end result and not what's right in front of you at the time," he elaborated.
"At times it was a little bit of wanting so desperately to get some runs that you forget to watch the ball. As soon as you don't … one percent can be enough in this game to have you off and you're out.
"So it was just trusting my process that, for the past 10 years, has been pretty solid and has given me a great foundation to bounce back from."
Over the past week, coach Justin Langer, his stand-in Andrew McDonald and selector George Bailey have all given their explicit support for Finch's leadership.
Finch said it may have helped "a little bit subconsciously" towards his first T20 half-century of the summer.
"It' s always nice to have the support of the selectors and the coach ... just get that reassurance," he said.
"I was still a little bit tentative in the first couple of balls, going into defend and survival mode as opposed to being aggressive when I'm playing my best.
"When I'm playing at my best I'm hitting down the ground quite a bit, presenting the full face of the bat.
"As a batter it can be bloody tough at times. I know I've done it before, I know I'm not a bad player. Now for me it's about building on that."
Australia will seek to level the series on Friday in Wellington, with all three matches in the Sky Stadium to be played on the same pitch.
After two defeats, Australia made just the one change on Wednesday, with speedster Riley Meredith coming in for his international debut at the expense of Daniel Sams, while Ashton Agar repaid the faith shown in him by collecting a career-best six-wicket haul.
Finch will meet with McDonald, Bailey and vice-captain Matthew Wade, who himself has been in a slump with scores of 12, 24 and 5 so far, on Thursday afternoon to finalise a team for the fourth match.
"We'll look at all options, after each game we review it, look to our planning and how we're going to use the bowlers, how the batting structure is going to work," Finch said.
"It might not look like there's been a whole lot of shifting and changing around of the side but there has been guys playing different roles to what they've usually done for us.
"Ashton Agar is bowling a lot more in the Powerplay, Adam Zampa is bowling more in the Powerplay than he has done for Australia in the past, and Mitch Marsh has batted at four and six, so there's been a bit of shuffling and a bit of info grabbing."
One player not at Australia's disposal for the remainder of the tour is Ashton Turner, who departs New Zealand today to return home for the birth of his second child. Turner will face two weeks of home-isolation under current WA government regulations.
Qantas T20I tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
1st T20: New Zealand won by 53 runs
2nd T20: New Zealand won by four runs
3rd T20: Australia won by 64 runs
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo