Qantas Tour of Zimbabwe
Five things we learned from T20 tri-series
Aaron Finch's form, Billy Stanlake's potential and a Zimbabwean making his case for a BBL spot among the key talking points from Harare
Aaron Pereira in Harare
9 July 2018, 07:42 PM AEST
Playing their shortest series in more than a decade, Aaron Finch’s Australia fell at the final hurdle in their 10-day Qantas Tour of Zimbabwe.
After a series whitewash at the hands of England in the United Kingdom, Australia were looking to restore some pride and break a winless spell of four months in the T20 tri-series.
While claiming drought-breaking victories against Pakistan and Zimbabwe, they ultimately fell short against Pakistan in Sunday's final.
Here’s a look at five things we’ve learned from the short series:
1. Aaron Finch is the world's most in-form T20 player
There is no doubt Aaron Finch is the most dominant player in T20 cricket at the moment. His 2018 has been nothing short of spectacular, piling on 464 runs in nine innings and dismissing attacks at will. His dominant home summer carried on internationally with big scores against New Zealand, Pakistan, England and Zimbabwe and he’s now the owner of the highest average and strike rate of the top 45 batsmen worldwide. He blasted a world record-breaking 172 against Zimbabwe and very nearly willed his side to victory in the final, his middle order unable to match his feats. On Monday, he was crowned the No.1 T20I batsman in the ICC rankings, having reached a record 900 ratings points during the series.
2. Billy Stanlake can be unplayable with the new ball
At more than 200cm and bowling at 150km/h, Billy Stanlake naturally poses a threat to even the world’s best batsmen. This was showcased by his devastating spell to rout the eventual champions in Australia's opening match of the series, when he claimed 4-8 in a superb four overs as his team steamrolled to a nine-wicket victory, with his pace and bounce the undoing of Pakistan’s top order. This came just a week after he claimed 3-35 in Manchester, removing Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan.
3. Zimbabwe’s Solomon Mire is a giant slayer
Solomon Mire played a lone hand for Zimbabwe, top scoring in all but one of the home nation’s matches. He blasted a Zimbabwean-record 94 against Pakistan before compiling 63 two days later against a strong Australian attack. He’s currently placed 25th in the world T20 batting rankings – ahead of Marlon Samuels and Sarfraz Ahmed – and will no doubt benefit from more experience at the international level. Mire will return to Australia, where he is a dual citizen, to ply his trade in the Victorian Premier system while looking for KFC Big Bash League opportunities.
4. Fakhar Zaman is a big game player
Aaron Finch predicted it before the game, Sarfraz Ahmed affirmed it after: Fakhar Zaman is Pakistan’s most dangerous batsman. He saved his best for last, blasting 91 against the Australians to hand his side the T20 tri-series trophy on Sunday. He was aptly named player of the series for his 278 runs, including three half-centuries, and has proved himself as a big-game player, preceding Sunday’s knock with a century in Pakistan’s final victory in the Champions Trophy in 2017. He currently sits behind only Aaron Finch in the T20 batting rankings and is in career-best form ahead of Pakistan’s series against Australia in the UAE in October.
5. Jhye Richardson will form part of a trio of potent quicks
Australia has had a rich history of fast bowlers from Lillee, to McGrath, to Starc, and that looks set to continue with a handful of young quicks starting to find their feet. Jhye Richardson (21 years old) and Billy Stanlake (23) showed plenty of skill during the white-ball tours of the UK and Zimbabwe and impressed Justin Langer along the way. The two troubled world-class batsmen from both England and Pakistan and were used at the top and through the middle overs. Pair those two with Pat Cummins (25) and Australia will have no shortage of top-class quicks for the next decade.