Australia's skipper has the coach’s approval.
Australia's skipper has the coach’s approval.

Finch open to moving down order for World Cup

Aaron Finch says it "doesn't matter" where he bats in the Australian line up, and is willing to demote himself down the order if it means him contributing to Australia's World Cup defence in England.

The Australian captain has opened in 98 of his 100 ODI innings, including a successful partnership with the soon to be available again David Warner at the top of the order at the previous edition of the competition back in 2015.

Finch and Usman Khawaja are expected to open throughout the five-match series against Pakistan that starts in Sharjah on Friday, having recently produced stands of zero, three, 76, 83 and 193 in the historic 3-2 series win in India.

Australia's opening combination in England, however, is far more uncertain.

The outstanding form of Khawaja - who outscored Virat Kohli during a series in India in which Australia came back from 2-0 down to win for the first time in its history - and Warner's looming return have complicated the situation.

One possible outcome is Khawaja will bat at first drop but Finch, having batted twice at No.5 during last year's ODI series in England, has vowed to do whatever is best for the team.

"If that means me batting at six, I'll comfortably do that. If it's at the top, three or four - it doesn't matter," Finch said.

"Personal results aren't what this side is about. I think that's what has made our improvement as dramatic and quick as it has been.

"If you go in just solely focused on scoring a hundred or thinking 'if I bat five I'm not got to get a hundred, I don't get enough opportunity', that's not what is best."

Finch ended a worrying slump with a knock of 93 in Ranchi in the third match of the series, but scored a combined 64 runs in the other four ODIs against India.

Khawaja’s form and David Warner’s return have given Australian selectors a ‘nice’ problem to solve. AP
Khawaja’s form and David Warner’s return have given Australian selectors a ‘nice’ problem to solve. AP


Conjecture about his place in the team continues to rumble amid the selection squeeze created by the end of Warner and Steve Smith's year long ban later this month. However, it's understood Finch has been effectively locked in to captain at the World Cup.

"I still feel really good with my game ... my rhythm is there," Finch said. "There's probably been some times where you start doubting your technique ... for me it's about going back to what's worked for me in the past."

Smith and Warner continued their managed reintegration in to the national set-up with a short stopover with the squad in the UAE on route to their respective IPL franchises.

Another key factor in Australia's World Cup defence will be how Finch, appointed ODI and Twenty20 captain in the wreckage of the sandpaper scandal, and two of his predecessors work together.

Finch declared he'd be "silly" not to seek the tactical wisdom of Smith, who Cricket Australia (CA) has barred from holding a leadership position for a further year, and Warner, who has been branded 'never to lead again' by CA. "They're such great resources to have as a captain," Finch said. "It's important you lean on them when you need to.

"But them going about their own business, preparing and getting their mind right to play is the most important thing for the side."

Finch, who remained in touch with Smith and Warner during their exile, is playing a key role in the reintegration process.

"It was good to get them in and for the boys to just go to the bar and have a beer with them the night before, to sort of break the ice," Finch said. "They were probably as nervous as anyone.

"They came in with almost bright eyes. It's a totally different set-up to when they left it.

"What's important is they're really keen to slot back into how this current side works ... their respect for the group and everything was fantastic."