Aaron Finch: ‘We came here with a clear plan to win the T20 World Cup’

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Australia captain also believes their T20 game has been left in a much healthier position

A theme of Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign, and through much of the lead-in, has been about keeping a level head. Whether that be around player unavailability, five consecutive series defeats in a row, an injury to the captain, mounting pressure on the coach, questions over balancing the side, uncertain individual form and preparation and most recently a defeat to England that was so big it left them staring at the exit.

Now, they are preparing to face Pakistan in the semi-final having produced two performances so convincing that, while they technically still needed some help to confirm their spot, the maths was always in their favour when England took on South Africa. It might all come to a juddering halt in Dubai on Thursday against the only unbeaten side in the tournament but, as Aaron Finch put it, “we’re still alive”.

“It’s just one of those things that in the lead-up to the tournament you tend to hear things or see the odd quote or comment that people have written you off,” Finch said. “It’s interesting how the narrative can change really quick. About 10 days ago our team was too old and now, we’re an experienced team.

“That’s just how it all gets portrayed. From day one, I’ve had a lot of confidence in the way that we’ve gone about this with the squad that we’ve got. I don’t think that we’ve exceeded our expectations whatsoever. We came here with a really clear plan to win this tournament, and we’re still alive to do that.”

Throughout 2021, there was a quiet confidence in the Australia camp that they could pull things together when it really mattered at the World Cup. It was often a tricky argument to make while struggling on overseas tours in New Zealand, the West Indies and Bangladesh.

“In the long run, over the next two or three years, this period of Australian cricket will help us uncover more talent and more depth, especially in the white-ball format.”

Aaron Finch, Australia captain

Even with all the big-names available – talk of them putting their places at risk by opting out tours quickly faded away – things were far from smooth. Finch was recovering from knee surgery, David Warner couldn’t get a game in the IPL, Marcus Stoinis suffered an injury scare, Adam Zampa had to train with local club players in Byron Bay because of lockdown and Matthew Wade was asked to bat in a position he’d rarely done before.

A final judgement on Australia’s tournament can only be made in the coming days – they will hope on Sunday – but Finch believes their T20 game has been left in a much healthier position not just by this competition but also by what preceded it.

“One thing I’m really proud of is how we’ve started to uncover a little bit more depth in T20 cricket in Australia,” he said. “Some guys who mightn’t have got an opportunity in the past if everyone was available, they got a good opportunity to test themselves in international cricket.

“I think in the long run, over the next two or three years, this period of Australian cricket will help us uncover more talent and more depth, especially in the white-ball format. That’s something I’m really proud of. Although the results previous to this World Cup hadn’t gone our way a huge amount, there was so much learning that we got out of that.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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