Aaron Finch’s star continues to rise after overcoming technical glitches

Blaze away: Aaron Finch has made subtle changes to his technique which have had a big effect on his game.Aaron Finch knew he had a problem 12 months ago. A big problem. Here was a player who knew he belonged on the world stage but was not considered good enough to be playing for his state. But instead of getting bitter, Finch got better. And after the next seven weeks he may prove to be one of the best in the world.
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Just weeks after peeling off two centuries last summer against England in front of big crowds and a national TV audience of over a million, Finch was dumped from Victoria’s Sheffield Shield team and playing grade cricket at a suburban ground in Geelong.

He could easily have lived in denial, blinded by his success for Australia. Surely a game that was good enough to dominate one-day international cricket should prosper at state level. They say a picture paints a thousand words though in Finch’s case his Shield numbers told the story: 0, 0, 5, 12, 5, 97, 4, 18, 7, 0 – 148 runs at 14.8.

While Finch had the backing of Rod Marsh and Darren Lehmann at national level, Victoria’s selectors had run out of patience, though he was surprised they waited as long as they did to make the call. He is glad for their tough love otherwise his technical woes could have “spiralled out of control”. His head was in the wrong place, literally and metaphorically, which had a profound effect on his game.

“It’s always tough when you get dropped. No one likes it but the reality is I didn’t make any runs. It wasn’t like I missed out once or twice, I missed out for quite a while. The selectors and the coach probably stuck with me for a bit longer than they would have liked to,” Finch says.

“It’s always tough but in a weird way it was a relief I was dropped. At the time I was going through a pretty tough patch mentally, I was almost talking myself out of innings before I played them.

“Everything about my game was negative, there was nothing positive towards the red ball, four-day cricket, making runs in that format.

“Though I was dropped I was making runs in other formats which was also a frustrating thing.”

Finch, though, was not getting carried away by his success against England. Sure it gave him confidence he could succeed at international level, but he chose not to let it mask his deficiencies. One innings of 121 included lives on eight and 26.

Finch describes the time out as a “turning point” in his career as it gave him the rare opportunity to makes changes. They were subtle alterations but their effect was telling.

His head was back, so too his body weight, therefore his “bat face has to be open so you nick balls that you shouldn’t”, Finch explains.

“And keeping my hands in tight.”

Finch, Australia’s leading run-scorer in the ODI arena last year, was given a reminder in the tri-series final old habits can take time to erase. His hands were outside the line of the ball and he was caught at slip for a second-ball duck to James Anderson.

“They’re the two things I’ve worked on, they haven’t been difficult things to change but difficult things to be consistent at,” Finch says.

“Because my technique has changed slightly if I didn’t have the time to work on it I mightn’t have identified the changes or had time to change it before it spiralled out of control and before you know it nobody wants you to play for them in four-day cricket and it affects the rest of your game.

“While it was not a great thing to get dropped, it was a little bit of a turning point and a wake-up call.”

Finch is confident the change in technique will give him a crack at his “No.1 goal”, a baggy green. In his past seven first-class matches, for Yorkshire and Victoria, he has averaged 49 – well above his career mark of 29.

“We’ve touched before about my poor first-class record but if you’re playing international cricket and doing well in any form of the game it holds you in good stead that you can play at that level,” Finch says.

“If I get the opportunity to play more first-class cricket I can force my way into a spot if it becomes available.”

But Finch has more pressing goals at the moment – winning the World Cup.

“That’s what we’re playing for,” Finch says. “The whole squad’s no different. We’re there to win it, we think we’ve got the team to win it and I don’t see why if we play to our best we can’t be world champions again on March 29.”

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