Qantas Tour of NZ 2018

Absent stars present T20 challenge: Finch

Australia have won three in a row in the 20-over format, but Aaron Finch predicts future conundrums for selectors

Louis Cameron, in Auckland

15 February 2018, 02:50 PM

Aaron Finch has welcomed Australia's reinvigorated recent approach to a previously "neglected" format but sent a strong reminder that some of the missing Test stars are among the finest T20 players in the world. 

Australia have this summer defied their poor historical record in the international game's newest format, winning three games on the trot to book their place in the final of the T20 International tri-series against New Zealand and England with a game to spare.

That they've done so without the likes of regular captain Steve Smith and fellow Test players Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh and Tim Paine has led some to suggest that some of the leading KFC Big Bash League performers who have impressed in national colours may have leapfrogged Australia's regular internationals in the T20 pecking order.

Stand-in captain David Warner aside, none of the other 13 Test squad members who today departed for the four-Test Qantas Tour of South Africa were considered for selection in the ongoing T20I series, which continues on Friday evening at Eden Park where the Aussies take on New Zealand.  

And Finch believes a number of Australia’s Test stars remain among their best T20 players.

Match wrap: Australia cruise into tri-series final

"You have guys who are playing Test cricket who are some of the best T20 players in the world who don’t get an opportunity to play Big Bash," Finch told reporters in Auckland on the eve on his side’s final group-stage match.

"It is about assessing (regular Test and ODI players') performances in tournaments they play around the world when they do get an opportunity to play for Australia. 

"For example, Mitchell Starc, he hasn’t had a chance to play Big Bash for a long time consistently, just the odd game here or there. He would be a walk-up start for any T20 side in the world. 

"So there has to be a bit of mixing and matching with that and also a little bit of common sense when you are looking at guys who haven’t played much T20 in recent times."

While many of Australia's current T20 squad had little experience playing for their country before the tournament, their fluency in the shortest format has been telling.

The bowling quartet of Andrew Tye, Billy Stanlake, Kane Richardson and Ashton Agar had played a combined total of 13 T20Is prior to the series and were all selected on the back of standout recent BBL campaigns, as were more experienced campaigner Glenn Maxwell and injury-plagued star Chris Lynn.

As the skills required for T20 continue to become even more distinct from those needed in the longer forms, Finch says having players fresh off strong domestic T20 campaigns has benefited the current Australian outfit.

Finch seals the win with consecutive sixes

"At the moment we have got guys who have come off the Big Bash in really good form," the 31-year-old explained. 

"They have been guys who have (played) a long period of T20 cricket, which probably has a bit of a difference.

"When we have been in England in the past, for example, we have just stuck with the one-day (squad) with one or two changes. Having guys in really good (T20) form coming in is really handy. 

"The guys that have played are also coming into the side fresh so they bring that real youth and enthusiasm that you are after in T20 so there is a real excitement around the team."

While Starc, Smith, Cummins and Marsh would all appear to certain starters in a first-choice Australia T20 XI, a player like Josh Hazlewood presents selectors with a conundrum.

Spearhead of the Test and ODI attacks, Hazlewood has played just three T20 games – domestic or international – over the last four years. In that same period, Finch, for instance, has played 124 T20s, Warner has featured in 81 and Tye 64.

The silver lining of his absence, says Finch, is the chance to blood less-experienced players at a ground like Eden Park, where they’re expecting a traditionally hostile welcome from a famously parochial Kiwi crowd on Friday.

Lynn thrills in quickfire innings of 31 at the MCG

"It's just a gut feel every now and then with selection," Finch said when asked about Hazlewood. "Test cricket is his priority and one-day cricket as well. 

"I can understand that but at the same time it does give guys international experience, to play in front of big crowds and come in here and play at Eden Park is one of the more daunting tasks as an international side. 

"The crowd's very vocal, they're very intimidating at times if New Zealand get on top. 

"To be able to expose guys to that I think is a huge factor and something that you can get a real read on how they cope with pressure just by small things like that."

Trans-Tasman T20 Tri-Series

First T20I Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets. Scorecard

Second T20I Australia beat England by five wickets. Scorecard

Third T20I Australia beat England by seven wickets. Scorecard

Fourth T20I New Zealand beat England by 12 runs. Scorecard

Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21

Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.