Finch flaws on dis­play


Twenty-six is not a magic num­ber if you are an Aus­tralian cricket fan.

It rep­re­sents the num­ber of times Aus­tralia has changed its open­ing part­ners since Aus­tralian coach Justin Langer and Matthew Hay­den walked through the gates to­gether for the last time at the Syd­ney Cricket Ground in Jan­uary 2007.

That’s about two a year or one every four Tests. It is a crip­pling statis­tic.

The twin peaks have been re­placed by pil­lars of sand, as likely to be swept away as a sand­cas­tle stalked by a ris­ing tide.

Eight of the 26 have been united for just one in­nings. In the three years since Chris Rogers re­tired Aus­tralia has fielded 10 dif­fer­ent part­ner­ships at the top of the or­der.

The union of Aaron Finch and Mar­cus Har­ris lasted just three balls yes­ter­day be­fore Finch played an airy drive and saw his mid­dle and off stumps up­rooted.

Some­where in Mel­bourne there would have been Vic­to­rian cricket of­fi­cials say­ing – with no cel­e­bra­tion – “we told you so” be­cause Finch has not opened for his state in red-ball cricket for four years af­ter av­er­ag­ing 18 in that po­si­tion for Vic­to­ria.

For all his white-ball prow­ess, there has long been a feel­ing Finch does not have the de­fen­sive fi­bre to cope with the swing­ing red ball on wick­ets do­ing some­thing.

The dis­missal was reck­less in so many ways.

Finch would have known that Ishant Sharma’s prime weapon was the in­swinger and that the wicket was pro­vid­ing oc­ca­sional ‘nib­ble’ with the new ball.

The cover area was tempt­ingly va­cant but that also meant that sim­ply mak­ing solid con­tact would have meant runs. He didn’t have to mur­der any­thing but white-ball habits are hard to shake.

Har­ris may have made only 26 on de­but but he was a gen­uine bright spot for Aus­tralia who were 4-117 at tea with Pe­ter Hand­scomb not out 33 and Travis Head un­beaten on 17.

Ear­lier, Har­ris had im­pressed with his con­fi­dence.

When he squeezed a bound­ary through the slips, his cheeky smile was that of a man rel­ish­ing the chal­lenge rather than be­ing in­tim­i­dated by it.

He boldly ad­vanced to the dan­ger­ous fin­ger spin­ner Ravi Ash­win who got him at the end, caught at bat-pad, but it was an hon­ourable con­test.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, Har­ris had faced 875 de­liv­er­ies in red-ball cricket this sum­mer. Finch just 91.

Langer is the man who must select and coach Aus­tralia’s open­ers and, hope­fully, in his four-year term he may un­earth a duo who are as close as he and Hay­den, for a team without de­cent open­ers is like a car with a faulty en­gine.

Langer only had to be re­minded of the Power of Two when he was at the Brad­man Foun­da­tion Din­ner in Syd­ney re­cently and hopped on stage with Hay­den.

The laughs flowed. The years fell away. Old sto­ries and laugh­ter filled the room.

This is the vibe Aus­tralia craves but it seemed a long way away at the Ade­laide Oval.

Photo: David Mar­iuz

OPEN AND SHUT: Aaron Finch is clean bowled by Ishant Sharma for a duck on day two of the first Test in Ade­laide.

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