Melbourne Renegades captain Aaron Finch has opened up on 'the most difficult' period of his career as he rode the highs and lows of his maiden summer of Test cricket.
Finch made his Test debut in October in the UAE but less than three months later he was dropped from the XI following a lean run with the bat against the world's top-ranked Test side, India.
Between Test stints against Pakistan and India, Finch had his hands full juggling his own form, leading the ODI and T20 sides and switching formats.
Those new challenges wore down the Victorian and left him with a greater appreciation of his teammates who regularly swap red ball for white, coloured clothing for creams and five days for 50 overs.
"Probably the last six months have been the most difficult of my career in terms of chopping and changing formats," Finch told SEN Breakfast.
"Making my Test debut and playing a bit more Test cricket was probably a mental challenge more than anything.
"To play in Dubai and then come straight back into an ODI and T20 series and Test matches and things like that, it’s probably been the longest sustained period that I’ve played cricket for Australia.
"In terms of that, it was quite mentally challenging and something that I probably didn’t give the guys who played all three formats of the game enough credit (for) in the past.
"You see them come off a Test series and come into the one-day game and you think 'jeez, they're a bit flat. I don't know why, they're playing cricket for Australia' and it's not until you've been in that position yourself that every now and then you need five minutes to yourself at times to get away. It might be a day or two.
"That’s been difficult and on the back of not making enough runs myself, that makes it even more of a challenge."
In five Tests, Finch scored 278 runs at 27.8 opening the batting, but against India he made just 97 runs in six innings.
It led to the right-hander being axed for the final Test of the Domain Series against Virat Kohli's men and subsequently overlooked for the following Tests against Sri Lanka.
Finch says the scrutiny of Test cricket did affect him but he remains positive about his first summer in the Baggy Green.
"At times – I don't tend to read too much of what's written – you find yourself combing through a few papers and seeing some negative stuff," he said.
"So it does wear you down a little bit but at the same time, it’s been amazing.
"I wouldn’t change it for anything.
"It was a great learning experience for me about my game and myself but also management of my own time and my own emotions.
"It was a really good challenge and something I've defiantly learnt from."
However, the crowded schedule, intense pressure and constant changing between formats has Finch believing players may start to turn down national honours in one format to get the best out of themselves in another.
Finch explained how fast bowlers are often rested for particular series to remain fresh for others, like how Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins missed the Gillette ODI Series against India to rest and prepare for the Sri Lanka Tests.
The decision to put fast bowlers on ice is usually made by selectors, medical staff and the players, but Finch can foresee a time when a fatigued player turns down an international cap knowing they won't be able to give their all.
"I think going forward there will be times where players say 'look, you can pick me if you like but you know my output isn't going to be (100 per cent)'," Finch said.
"Your heart’s still in it, your head’s still in it but you’re physically and mentally you might be five per cent off or 10 per cent off. In international cricket, that’s a long way from where the opposition are at a lot of the time.
"So I think you will see that in terms of guys just being really honest and saying 'look, I can play, but my heart won’t be in it or you’re not going to get the best result out of me' and I think that the way that the game’s going, people are more understanding of that.
"Going back a few years there would be a lot of people who would look sideways at that and say you’re giving up your spot in the Australian side but I think it’s going to be crucial down the track."