Gillette ODI Series 2018
'Keepers counted on to convert BBL form
Finch confident Australia wicketkeeping options are capable of turning their stellar Big Bash form into vital end-of-innings ODI runs
18 January 2018, 04:10 PM AEST
Whether it is Tim Paine or Alex Carey who walks out to bat at No.7 for Australia in Friday's second Gillette Series ODI against England, their performances at the top of the order in the KFC Big Bash will prove particularly valuable to the task they're immediately faced with at the Gabba.
Carey, who last night smashed a brilliant hundred opening for Adelaide in the KFC Big Bash, has been flown in as cover for Paine, who has been struck down with the gastro bug that is doing the rounds within the Australian camp.
And according to opening batsman Aaron Finch, a reasonable comparison can be made between opening the batting in the game's shortest format, and coming in five wickets down in the frantic final stages of a 50-over innings.
"In a funny way (batting down the order is) a very similar spot to opening the batting in T20, when you have to walk out there and look to dominate, and score heavily from the first couple of balls," Finch explained.
"Sometimes in a one-day game, the No.7 is coming in with only a handful of balls or a few overs left and they've got to get on with it quick.
"So in a funny kind of way I think it'll actually help them being opening batters, particularly in the T20 form where you have to get on with it straight away."
Paine has been one of Hobart Hurricanes' more consistent performers in their BBL history, is the franchise's leading run-scorer (91 per cent of which have come as opener), and his impressive performances in the tournament were recognised last month by legendary batsman Ricky Ponting, who listed him in his all-time BBL XI, albeit at No.7.
Carey meanwhile has been a revelation for the Strikers at the top of the order this summer, hammering 368 runs at a strike rate of 140 for the tournament – second only to Hurricanes' opener D'Arcy Short.
In his first ODI in almost seven years on Sunday, Paine was forced to initially rebuild the innings after the successive quick wickets of set batsmen Aaron Finch and Mitch Marsh. He finished with 27 from 31 deliveries but his task in the final quarter of the innings was complicated by the double blow to the Australians as they continued an ODI trend of losing wickets at key times.
"Something we've talked a lot about over the last 18 months is having set guys going into the back half of the innings, particularly the last 10 overs," Finch explained.
"For Mitch and I to leave us hanging like that was disappointing, (it) probably cost us maybe 30 or 40 runs there towards the end … it's just been the same theme for a little while now.
"That's one spot that (captain) Steve (Smith) and (coach) Darren (Lehmann) have both identified quite critically in the past, and rightfully so.
"In India there was quite a few times when we had the opportunity to take the game really deep and put some pressure on at the back end, and just lost a couple of wickets at the wrong time, and same again in the first game here."
The constant loss of middle-order wickets has made the role of the No.7 all the more important in Steve Smith's side, and since the conclusion of the 2015 World Cup, Australia is the only team in the world's eight top ranked ODI team that has consistently played its wicketkeeper in that position.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that they've also scored more runs from there than any other nation, with Matthew Wade a world leader in that time with 686 runs at 34.30.
Through the same period, Australia's numbers four, five and six combined are ranked seventh for output among the top eight nations, ahead of only Bangladesh, with just two centuries (by George Bailey and Mitch Marsh) scored from 138 trips to the middle.
Finch said player turnover in those positions could well have played a part in those middle-order inconsistencies.
"I suppose when you've got guys constantly changing in the side, it can be hard to get a real partnership, especially with guys you haven't batted with a lot," he added.
"But it's time to just do it a bit more often."
For his part, uncapped 'keeper Carey believes he has found an approach that works for him, whether coming in at one or seven.
"I like batting with freedom whenever I go out to bat, and even in Shield cricket I like to play my shots and I like to score," he told cricket.com.au ahead of the summer.
"That's how I play my best cricket, with that freedom – looking to hit the ball and score at a reasonable pace.
"Two or three years ago, when I came into the squad as a top three batsman I might have changed my game a little bit and looked to bat time rather than look to score and play my natural game.
"When I got de-listed from the Redbacks (after the 2013-14 season) I had to go away and focus on what works best for me and that's batting with freedom, having the confidence to hit the bad ball and rather than 'don't get out', it's 'where can I score?'."
2017-18 International Fixtures
Gillette ODI Series v England
Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.
England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
First ODI England won by five wickets at the MCG.
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets
Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21