West Indies v Australia ODIs - Men's
Finch remains under a cloud for Windies ODIs
Who takes the reins as Australia's captain should Aaron Finch miss the opening ODI against the West Indies remains unclear
Louis Cameron in Barbados
19 July 2021, 11:38 AM AEST
Mitchell Starc is taking on a greater mentoring role around Australia's green one-day international squad that is yet to settle on a back-up captain if Aaron Finch is unable to play in Barbados.
Finch was restricted to light duties during Australia's first training session at the Kensington Oval ahead of Wednesday morning's (AEST) first ODI against West Indies as he manages a knee injury that he reaggravated on Friday.
While several of the Aussies also did not have strenuous sessions given some are coming off seven games in 12 days (including the two intra-squad matches) during the recent T20I series in St Lucia, Australia's white-ball captain remains under a cloud for the series-opener.
Who will lead the Aussies in Finch's absence if he misses remains unclear with regular vice-captain Pat Cummins absent.
Coach Justin Langer had long discussions with Alex Carey (who was vice-captain for Australia's most recent ODI last summer), Moises Henriques and Mitch Marsh as he walked laps with each of those players individually in the Caribbean sunshine on Monday afternoon.
Matthew Wade was Finch's deputy for the T20 series but has not played an ODI in four years, while Carey, Marsh and Josh Hazlewood have also previously held the vice-captaincy title in recent years.
"It makes for an interesting question," said Starc. "We've got Alex there, Josh Hazlewood was vice captain for a period of time there, Matthew Wade has captained before, Moises has captained plenty of games in the past, so you've got plenty of guys with leadership experience.
"’Wadey’ said it the other day – it makes it easier captaining in international cricket when guys know their roles.
"If Finchy was to miss, I'm sure whoever takes on the role will do a good job and we'll get behind them."
Both Ben McDermott and Ashton Agar, who suffered quad and hamstring injuries respectively last week, trained strongly on Sunday and are both in contention to play.
The 18-man squad picked for this tour and the T20 campaign in Bangladesh to follow has been skewed largely to the shorter white-ball format given the focus on this year's T20 World Cup.
Australia's leading five run scorers from their most recent ODI series, a 2-1 win over India at home in December, are all absent.
The presence of Dan Christian, who has not played a domestic 50-over game since October 2017, let alone an ODI (his last coming in 2014), further highlights the T20 emphasis of the touring party.
It means there could be multiple ODI debutants in the series with KFC Big Bash stars McDermott, Josh Philippe and Riley Meredith all in the frame to play.
"They've had a few weeks now to see what conditions in the West Indies look like," said Starc when asked about uncapped batting tyros Philippe and McDermott.
"We'll see a better set of wickets in Barbados than we did in St Lucia. There's still that wind that we get across the ground, there's still some smallish boundaries but we're still promoting nice aggressive play, and we want to see that intent.
"They've performed well on the domestic scene and in the Big Bash as well. If they get their opportunity for Australia, I'm sure they'll take it with both hands and give all they can to a winning cause."
From a bowling perspective, the importance of Starc along with Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa, has only been heightened.
Of the six other specialist bowlers, three (Meredith, Wes Agar and Mitchell Swepson) are yet to play an ODI while the other three (Jason Behrendorff, Andrew Tye and Ashton Agar) have played 32 ODIs between them.
Starc suggested the senior bowlers are taking an active role in guiding the less experienced ones.
"It naturally comes about chatting around training and off the field. It's the nature of these hubs – you can't really leave the hotel so you spend a bit more time together as a group," he said.
"Whether it be chatting after play or chatting through days around the hotel. We've got guys who have got a little bit of experience in international cricket now.
"For Josh, Zamps and I potentially playing a bit more white-ball cricket than the rest … You keep yourself accessible to them and check how they're going around training. Those ongoing discussions happen quite naturally anyway around a cricket tour."
Qantas Tour of the West Indies 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Nathan Ellils, Tanveer Sangha.
West Indies T20 squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Nicholas Pooran (vc), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr
T20 series: West Indies won 4-1 (all matches at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, St Lucia)
First T20: West Indies won by 18 runs
Second T20: West Indies won by 56 runs
Third T20: West Indies won by six wickets
Fourth T20: Australia won by four runs
Fifth T20: West Indies won by 16 runs
ODI series (all matches at Kensington Oval, Barbados)
First ODI (D/N): July 21, 4.30am AEST (July 20, 2.30pm local)
Second ODI (D/N): July 23, 4.30am AEST (July 22, 2.30pm local)
Third ODI (D/N): July 25, 4.30am AEST (July 24, 2.30pm local)
* Details of five-match T20 tour of Bangladesh are yet to be announced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board. Tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.