Aus­tralia cap­tain Finch says off-field ruc­tions caus­ing ‘doubts’

Stabroek News - - STARBROEK SPORT -

MEL­BOURNE, (Reuters) Off-field ruc­tions caused by the Longstaff re­view may have caused “doubts” in the minds of the Aus­tralian team as they strug­gle through a pro­longed form slump in the one­day game, ac­cord­ing to cap­tain Aaron Finch.

A slew of Cricket Aus­tralia ex­ec­u­tives have re­signed or been axed since the Longstaff re­port was re­leased last week, shin­ing a spot­light on cul­tural prob­lems in the game’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“When there are changes, and there are things be­ing said and writ­ten about, I think it’s hard not to read it some­times when its ev­ery­where,” Finch told re­porters in Ade­laide yes­ter­day ahead of the sec­ond ODI against South Africa.

“For me per­son­ally, I don’t think it af­fected me in terms of my preparation or my per­for­mance.

“You might spend a lit­tle bit of time read­ing it, and putting some kind of doubts in your mind at times.

“But I think it’s about each in­di­vid­ual be­ing 100 per cent com­mit­ted to their plans and do­ing what­ever the team needs to get the job done.”

Aus­tralia were thrashed by six wick­ets by South Africa in the opener of a three-game se­ries in Perth on Sun­day, fall­ing to their 17th loss in 19 matches.

Long-serv­ing CA di­rec­tor Mark Tay­lor re­signed from the board the next day, while CEO Kevin Roberts an­nounced on Wed­nes­day that two fur­ther ex­ec­u­tives had been axed, in­clud­ing high per­for­mance boss Pat Howard.

For­mer play­ers and me­dia pun­dits were quick to heap the blame on Howard for Aus­tralia’s cur­rent strug­gles but Finch de­fended the for­mer rugby in­ter­na­tional’s work in the role.

“When you’re in his po­si­tion, you’re in a no-win po­si­tion,” Finch said.

“A lot of the time you have to rob Peter to pay Paul to change all the struc­tures around.

“And what­ever is best for the (na­tional) men’s side might not be the best thing for one state in par­tic­u­lar at the time.

“He was in a re­ally dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion and did an un­be­liev­able job dur­ing that pe­riod. It’s un­for­tu­nate that Pat has gone, I know how much he loved the game.” SAO PAULO, (Reuters) Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel says miss­ing out on the 2009 For­mula One cham­pi­onship still ranks as a more painful mo­ment than los­ing to his Mercedes ri­val Lewis Hamil­ton this sea­son.

Hamil­ton clinched his fifth ti­tle, and fourth in five sea­sons, in Mex­ico last month with two races to spare. Vet­tel is sure to fin­ish the year as run­ner-up.

“I have been three times now in a po­si­tion like that with ‘17, ‘09 and this year. Prob­a­bly ‘09 was the worst one, the low­est point,” the Ger­man told re­porters at the Brazil­ian Grand Prix yes­ter­day.

“You never know what the next year brings. You never know whether you get an­other chance,” Vet­tel added.

“Ob­vi­ously I will work very hard for it, and I am con­fi­dent it will come but ul­ti­mately I don’t know. You can’t predict. None of those mo­ments were nice.”

Vet­tel fin­ished 2009, his first year with Red Bull, nine points be­hind Brawn GP’s cham­pion Jen­son But­ton in a cham­pi­onship won by the Bri­ton at the penul­ti­mate round in Brazil.

He had to wait un­til 2010 for his first world ti­tle and ended up with four in a row from 2010-13 be­fore mov­ing to Fer­rari in 2015 while Mercedes be­gan a run of dom­i­nance.

The Ger­man was also run­ner-up to Hamil­ton last year, the first sea­son since the re­tire­ment of Mercedes’ 2016 world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg.

Hamil­ton has won nine races to Vet­tel’s five in 2018 and went to Mex­ico with a 70 points ad­van­tage and need­ing only to fin­ish sev­enth.

With that ti­tle de­cided, Mercedes now have to wrap up the con­struc­tors’ crown for the fifth year in a row and will do so at In­ter­la­gos on Sun­day pro­vid­ing Fer­rari do not score 13 points more than them.

Vet­tel said the Ital­ian team, still For­mula One’s most suc­cess­ful of all time, be­lieved they could “have at least a word” in the out­come.

“We try ev­ery­thing we can. We go flat out and try and score more points so that’s ev­ery­thing we can do,” he said.

“We’ve seen in the last race how quickly things can change when you strug­gle with tyres and so on, we’ve been on that side as well. We keep our head down and try our best.

“I still have a mis­sion here and want to win so that doesn’t change. The last race was a tough one to swal­low, and prob­a­bly the win­ter will be as well, but giv­ing up is not an op­tion.”

Mark Thomp­son (right), do­ing bat­tle dur­ing last year’s CMRC fi­nal leg at South Dakota Cir­cuit

Aaron Finch

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