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The twin peaks have been replaced by pillars of sand, as likely to be swept away as a sandcastle stalked by a rising tide.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.
OPEN AND SHUT: Aaron Finch is clean bowled by Ishant Sharma for a duck on day two of the first Test in Adelaide.