The push to elevate Aaron Finch into the Australian test team for the first test at the Gabba is in full swing. The media’s new darling now that David Warner is out of favour is quoted thusly in a profile about him on the Cricinfo website:
“To play Test cricket is my ultimate goal still, I definitely haven’t lost that ambition. I feel as though I’m now in a really good space to do that."
This push has arisen from a streak of good form in Australian colours in the 20 and 50 over forms of the game. He is a dynamo in the shortest form of the game with an average of 52.28 and a strike rate of 178.53 at international level. In the 50 form his record is somewhat less imposing, particularly when the 148 he scored against Scotland is excised. The proponents of Finch’s elevation to the test team have ignored Finch’s poor form in the Ryobi Cup before he left for India where he could only manage scores of 2 and 5.
Overarching all of this is the unmistakable truth that comes from Finch’s first class record: he does not have the record of a test player at first class level. An average of 29.56 is just not good enough to warrant selection in the test team for a top order batsman; particularly when you consider that last year Finch was not selected for all games he could have been for his state. Differently put, he wasn’t in Victoria’s top squad at the first class level last season.
Finch himself recognises (in the same article I have quoted above) that he has had a mental issue with the long form of the game which has contributed to his lack of form.
Surely then it is not in Finch’s interest that he is rushed into the test team without an extended period of form in first class cricket. How could it be when the man himself suggests that he has issues with the long form of the game which, given the lack of long form cricket he has played over the last 12 months, could not have been rectified yet.
Australian players will have the opportunity to play in two Sheffield Shield games and an Australian A game (assuming he is in the frame for selection) to present their respective cases for selection for the first test at the Gabba. Finch must play in all of those games AND must score average 50 in those games to be selected in my view. I still believe it would be a mistake to rush him into the team even with that record as I am an advocate of a long period of long form form before a player is selected in the test team.
All of this leads though to the conclusion that the coronation of Finch as the new saviour of the test team is premature without him first being given the chance to prove himself at first class level. To select him without allowing him to so does not only him but the whole Australian set up a disservice.
Here’s hoping that John Inverarity finally takes a long term view of what is best for a player and the team at the selection table this time rather than pushing a player forward who is not ready. That would make a nice change!