ICC World T20 - Men

Finch ready to fight for opener's berth

Opener has recovered from a hamstring injury and is set to fly to South Africa this weekend

Sam Ferris

23 February 2016, 02:29 PM AEST

Aaron Finch says he's shaken off the disappointment of being stripped of Australia's T20 captaincy and is ready to fight for his spot at the top of the order.

Finch hasn't played since injuring his hamstring in Australia's T20 international loss to India in Melbourne on January 11, but says he is back to "100 per cent" fitness.

The hard-hitting right-hander won't play any competitive cricket before he flies out to South Africa this weekend with Australia's World T20 squad for a three-match warm-up series, beginning on March 4 in Durban.

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But the lack of match play doesn't concern Finch after a "hectic" summer as he aims to win back his opening role from incumbents Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja, with David Warner also returning to the T20 squad.

"There's potentially four guys that can open the batting in that squad," Finch said.

"Whoever gets first crack in the side is going to have to perform and try and sure up their spot.

"It's one of those things that you're never quite sure which way the selectors will go.

"I've performed pretty well in Twenty20 cricket for a while now for Australia.

"Whenever guys are in great form, and definitely Usman and Watto (Watson) and Davey (Warner, who opened alongside Finch in the first T20 of the summer) have been in great nick as well, there's going to be that pressure regardless of who it is, regardless of how many runs they've scored.

"It's just a case of putting another case forward and whichever way they do go at the start of the series I'm sure there'll be challengers breathing down their neck."

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Steve Smith will lead the side in India for the World T20 after the national selectors opted to elevate the Test and ODI skipper and demote Finch.

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While Finch says he was "surprised" by the call to drop him as skipper, he's thrown his support behind Smith as Australia look to add the only trophy that is missing from their overflowing cabinet of global silverware.

"It's disappointing, no doubt," he said. "I was really looking forward to leading Australia into a world tournament.

"I was disappointed but I can understand the way that the selectors have decided to go.

"Steve (Smith) is obviously the captain of the other two formats. He's a fantastic captain and I'm sure he'll do very well."

Finch wasn't the only Victorian to suffer selection blues when the World T20 squad was announced on February 9.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade, who had been Australia's first-choice limited-overs 'keeper since the retirement of Brad Haddin after the 2015 World Cup, was overlooked for specialist gloveman Peter Nevill.

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The national selectors said Nevill was chosen for his sharp glovework that will be thoroughly tested on the spinning tracks in India, and that the door is not shut on Wade's return to the Australian setup.

"He (Wade) was very disappointed and rightfully so," Finch said. "He's been the No.1 'keeper for a while in the shorter formats.

"He was disappointed and we're all disappointed for him but at the same time you can't really argue with the reasoning behind it; Pete's (Nevill) the No.1 'keeper in their (the selectors) eyes in the country and that does play a big role, particularly with quite a bit of spin being bowled in the subcontinent.

"We've seen the wickets in South Africa in the England series have been quite slow and turned a little bit.

"There's definitely merit behind it but we're all disappointed for Wadey and I know that he was."

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The rapid tour to South Africa will be the last for Bupa Support Team Batting Caoch Michael Di Venuto, who resigned from his position to take the head coaching role at England county Surrey.

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Finch says Di Venuto's departure will be a "huge loss" for Australia's elite batsmen.

"He's been unbelievable in that role for a few years now," Finch said of Di Venuto.

"I know as we've all heard, the guys in the side can't speak highly enough of him.

"I'm just glad I get a chance to be with him at Surrey again.

"He's a great man who's done a lot of great things for the Australian batting lineup.

"It's going to be a huge loss and a huge hole to fill but very happy he's got a head coaching job."

Finch penned a deal with Surrey earlier this month to be the county’s overseas replacement player when Kumar Sangakkara is away on Caribbean Premier League duties. Finch will play all three formats and is expected to make his county debut on July 2.


Aaron Finch: 24 matches, 874 runs, average of 41.61, strike rater of 151.47

David Warner: 54 matches, 1465 runs, average of 28.72, strike rate of 138.86

Shane Watson: 52 matches, 1315 runs, average of 28.58, strike rate of 146.11

Usman Khawaja: one match, 14 runs, average of 14, strike rate of 233.30