Who’s your most pop­u­lar na­tional sport­ing team?

Team­mates’ crit­i­cism in­spired Aussie cap­tain’s new ap­proach

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - MICK'S PICKS - BEN HORNE

AARON Finch has re­vealed how the bru­tal feed­back he re­ceived from the play­ers who voted him in has shaped his sec­ond com­ing as an Aus­tralian cap­tain.

On Fri­day night in Ade­laide, Finch surely be­came one of the first play­ers ever to win an of­fi­cial man-of-the­match award based purely on the strength of his cap­taincy.

He made 41 with the bat, but that was only the fifth high­est score in a game clearly dom­i­nated by bowlers.

Finch’s hon­our was an ex­tra­or­di­nary recog­ni­tion of the tac­ti­cal im­pact his de­ci­sion-mak­ing had on Aus­tralia de­fend­ing a sub-par to­tal of 231, and it has set the tone for a self­less leader who lis­tens and is will­ing to change his ways.

One of the most dras­tic changes im­ple­mented by new coach Justin Langer was an AFL-style ap­proach where the play­ing group were asked to put for­ward nom­i­na­tions for the men they wanted to be their cap­tains and vice-cap­tains.

Finch has opened up about how his iron-clad en­dorse­ment as ODI skip­per six months’ out from a World Cup de­fence didn’t come with­out some frank stip­u­la­tions from a play­ing group not afraid to point out the short­com­ings they had per­ceived.

Play­ers told Finch they wanted him to be less grumpy with his body lan­guage and to not talk for the sake of talk­ing. Finch’s readi­ness to ac­cept and evolve shows the char­ac­ter of a true leader.

“From the lead­er­ship nom­i­na­tions and rea­sons for and against there was some re­ally good pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive feed­back from the other play­ers who nom­i­nated or rec­om­mended me,” Finch told The Sun­day Tele­graph.

“For me, a lot of (my ap­proach) is about be­ing able to take the neg­a­tives on board, the crit­i­cisms on board and start to work on them.

“One of them was my emo­tions on the field can some­times get a lit­tle bit out of con­trol. Not los­ing my tem­per, but get­ting a bit emo­tional. That’s some­thing I’ve re­ally worked on.

“The other thing that came out was in the past I’ve talked too much around train­ing and it was about mak­ing sure when I do speak, the mes­sages are re­ally clear and pretty sim­ple. I don’t want to com­pli­cate things.”

There’s some­thing about Finch that the ev­ery­day per­son can re­late to. Walk­ing back to the team ho­tel on match eve in his full play­ing kit hav­ing just posed for a char­ity shoot, two Ade­laide fire en­gines drove past honking their horns and the Firies yelling out, “Hey Finchy.”

An­other man of the peo­ple, Shane Warne lauded the qual­ity of Finch’s tac­tics and field place­ments in the tri­umph over South Africa in Ade­laide and be­lieves the Vic­to­rian could also be Test cap­tain, de­spite only hav­ing two matches in the baggy green.

Finch mar­shalled his bowlers Pat Cum­mins, Josh Ha­zle­wood and Mitchell Starc on Fri­day night to per­fec­tion, some­thing that might have sur­prised some given he was re­moved from the Twenty20 cap­taincy back in 2016 in favour of Steve Smith. The 31year-old has be­come bet­ter at in­ter­pret­ing the needs of his team­mates and wants to be a cap­tain who backs them.

“In the past I’ve been some­one who has talked to bowlers par­tic­u­larly at the end of the in­nings like ev­ery ball. Ask­ing them what they’re bowl­ing, and set­ting fields to that,” he said.

“Some­times that can be an ex­tra layer of emo­tion or ex­tra layer of bur­den on them that they don’t need. Par­tic­u­larly bowl­ing at the death of a one-dayer or T20. There’s some good play­ers there. So for me it’s about just giv­ing them their own space.”

Aaron Finch ap­plauds his team­mates af­ter vic­tory in Ade­laide. Pic­ture: Getty

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