Shield run has Finch primed for decider

Missing on national duties for Victoria's last two Shield titles, the right-hander hopes to help them achieve the 'three-peat'

Aaron Finch doubts he would have been selected for Victoria’s back-to-back Sheffield Shield titles in the past two seasons, even if national honours had not taken precedence.

But the right-hander says a simplified approach to batting has him primed to help the Bushrangers achieve a historic ‘three-peat.’

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Finch missed Victoria’s Shield Final triumphs over the previous two summers due to international duty; in 2015 he was busy helping Australia regain the one-day international World Cup on home soil, while last year he was part the national side’s World T20 campaign in India.

Having bounced in and out of the Bushrangers’ side due to both higher honours as well as poor red-ball form in recent years, the powerful right-hander hopes to carry his more relaxed approach to batting into Sunday’s Shield decider against South Australia in Alice Springs. 

“I probably wouldn’t have got a game in the other (Shield finals) anyway,” Finch said with a grin. “It was probably lucky I was away.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity. I was lucky enough to win one in my first season (in 2009-10). It’d be a great achievement to do it again.

“I’ve stopped worrying about getting out – everyone gets out, whether you get out for a duck or 200. 

“It doesn’t faze me a hell of a lot anymore.”

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After standing in as captain for Australia’s ODI and T20 sides this summer, Finch has been a welcome addition to his domestic outfit at the back-end of the summer.

The 30-year-old posted his first Shield century in more than six years in November and since then, he’s been dismissed for less than 30 just once, with his season batting average now sitting above 50.

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He’s played in Victoria’s last four games and, should he take his place in the Bushrangers XI in their adopted home in the Northern Territory on the weekend, it’ll mark his longest run of consecutive games in a Sheffield Shield season since the 2010-11 season.

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“I feel comfortable,” Finch said. “I feel good at the moment. 

“(I) just haven’t converted some really good starts into hundreds in the last couple of games.

“I’m just enjoying it and trying to smack a few as well. 

“I’m enjoying batting at four, which is something I haven’t had a real opportunity to do except in the UK (for his county sides Yorkshire and Surrey).”

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In addition to welcoming back Finch, James Pattinson’s hot form has been a major bonus for Victoria since the KFC Big Bash League break.

The 17-Test fast-bowler, who last week revealed he asked national selectors not to consider him for Australia’s Qantas Tour of India as takes a cautious route back from injury, has taken 20 wickets in just four Shield games since Christmas.

Finch says Pattinson is back bowling better than he ever has, praising the right-armer’s resilience for being able to return from countless injury setbacks.

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“I don’t know I’ve seen him bowl better than this at the moment,” Finch said. “He’s really comfortable with where his body is at and his action is at.

“When he gets his tail up and the ball is shifting in the air slightly, it’s a different ball game. 

“I think it took him a few games to find his rhythm back again.

“He was, probably by his own admission, a little bit off the mark in his first couple of Shield games back. 

“Not being a fast bowler, I can’t imagine the mental toughness that it takes to get through injury after injury, doing all your rehab, getting back and then (getting injured again) and doing all your rehab again.”