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Teammates’ criticism inspired Aussie captain’s new approach
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