Honesty the key as Finch builds a new-era Australia
Captain says squad culture has changed and he is thrilled to be planning for 2023 World Cup
In The Test, the documentary following the Australian cricket team, Aaron Finch admits to waking up “in a cold sweat,” about facing Jasprit Bumrah, India’s opening bowler.
In another scene, Finch is at home. Slouching in a chair, with his Test career almost certainly over and his one-day captaincy – and place – precarious, Finch bemoans his lack of form to his wife, worrying how he can get out of this rut.
Most revealing about these moments is less that they happened – international sport is a deeply insecure world – than that we ever got to see them. Finch, like all the players, had a veto over any footage of him that appeared. Yet he was happy for his moments of vulnerability to be pored over, showing a character who is the antithesis to the caricature of the snarling, brutish Australian captain.
“It was just me, mate,” Finch says ahead of Australia’s first international since March. “It was just – that’s who I am, that’s what I was going through at the time.
“It would have been nice if I would go through that as a 22-yearold player. Going through it at 31 or 32 was a bit more difficult, but it wasn’t about trying to be more vulnerable than any other time. It was just about being honest. When things aren’t going well, they’re not going well. Everyone can see it so there’s no point trying to hide behind anything.”
It is a microcosm of Finch’s wider approach. Since assuming Australia’s white-ball captaincy two years ago, when Tim Paine’s brief stint as one-day captain ended, Finch has attempted to build a team culture that prioritises honesty.
“You have to be honest with yourself and everyone around you,” Finch says. “Honesty and vulnerability are important because until you’re vulnerable you probably can’t get inside to keep on unlocking things. Because if you always put the walls up, there’s only so much they can get through, and really help you. Yes, honesty is a huge one in our group.”
Australia’s creed after Cape Town – “elite honesty, learning, mateship, humility and professionalism” – has been much mocked. How, the common refrain has gone, can these five values help with the business of winning cricket matches?
Finch takes a different view. “It keeps you accountable and it keeps you on the right track. The simple answer is, yes, I think it does, be
cause the values are laid out. And it gives everyone ownership over that, it makes people probably a little bit more aware of them, day in, day out, because they are written around the place quite a bit. I think it just gives people a real clarity. There’s a bit more to it than those words but it comes back to just being as good people as we can.”
Finch contends that Australian cricket has changed in the past two years. “I feel as though the culture is really good. We have a lot of respect for the game and each other and our opposition, so we’ve got a lot of great people in our group – not just players but coaching staff and people behind the scenes. There’s a lot of great people that are pulling in the one direction.”
Unfortunately that number has dropped after Covid-19 led Cricket Australia to make swingeing cuts in the support staff, with batting coach Graeme Hick among those made redundant. Yet Finch has already identified what he hopes will be the end of his journey: the 2023 World Cup in India. This series,
Australia’s first appearance in the ODI Super League, is a chance to ensure that, after sleepwalking into the 2019 World Cup, they can build over the whole World Cup cycle.
“We have to nail down a particular strategy and sort of a one-day philosophy almost, because we were a little bit late in doing that into the 2019 World Cup – obviously there was a bit of a change of coaches and leadership.
“We’ve been really proactive in doing that this time and looking forward and seeing where we think one-day cricket will be and seeing where we think that our cricket will be compared to that. Then come up with the best way to go about it and then find the best personnel.”
Two years since being thrust into the role, the enthusiasm of Australia’s accidental captain is undimmed. “It’s bloody exciting to do all this planning and see where we get to.”
Fresh look: Aaron Finch says his side ‘respect’ the game