Aaron Finch delivers on captaincy prophecy

·4-min read

Before Aaron Finch had been appointed Australia's one-day captain, Shane Warne had pinned him down as a future leader in all three formats.

"His one day and T20 cricket is outstanding," Warne penned in a News Corp column in 2018.

"If he can seize his opportunity in the Test team, I believe he has a lot to offer in red-ball cricket

"He's a must-pick and captaincy is a crucial element of the (upcoming) World Cup. I think he could do a great job and I like his captaincy style."

History will show that Finch never quite cracked it in Test cricket, left being a star in the white-ball format before announcing his one-day retirement on Saturday.

But as is often the case, Warne was proven right in his beliefs around the capabilities of Finch the captain.

In his four years at the help of Australia's white-ball teams, it's hard to think of too many times where Finch has pulled the wrong rein.

Spinners thrived under him, quicks revelled in short, sharp spells and Finch regularly made the right call of when to bring strike weapons like Mitchell Starc back into the attack.

Finch's captaincy became so strong that at the 2019 World Cup, Michael Vaughan labelled him the best skipper in the tournament for his field settings and use of his bowlers.

In the Twenty20 format the Victorian was just as effective.

His batting was on the wane by last year's World Cup, but it was again his captaincy that helped Australia breaking their duck and claim their maiden title in the UAE.

It's part of the reason why Cricket Australia will back him to play on in the format and defend the title on home soil.

"That (strategic stuff) is a part of the game I love," Finch said.

"The intricacies of the captaincy and the decisions that you make out on the ground.

"Just reading the game, analysing it and preparing for games. It's something that I love doing.

"That's one thing I've been really proud of. Sometimes you make mistakes out there and we've been lucky enough to have a very good side that can cover it up.

"But there's also times when when you walk off and you can be really proud of some of the moves that you pulled."

Finch's leadership has also been crucial for CA in four years of chance.

As much as Tim Paine is credited for Australia's turnaround after the ball-tampering scandal, Finch found himself in an equally difficult position.

Australia's ODI team lost 11 of their first 13 matches after the drama, and the team was in ruins not long before 2019 World Cup.

Finch led the rebound, turning around his own form in coming back from 2-0 down to beat India 3-2 on foreign soil and Pakistan 5-0 in the UAE.

The opener labelled it as two of his proudest feats on Saturday, before Australia started that 2019 World Cup strong before exiting in the semi-finals.

Ultimately, Finch will finish with a winning record of above 50 per cent with a 30-24 record as skipper headed into his final ODI against New Zealand in Cairns on Sunday.

Finch's job off the field was just as important.

With cricket in ruins, Finch's demeanour helped build back the reputation of the national team.

"Over the last couple of years I've probably got a lot calmer with my emotions and everything on the field," he said.

"When you put so much work in behind the scenes, at times it can look like you're potentially pulling a couple of moves out on the field.

"But you've already talked about it and spoken about it with the coach and other players.

"So I'd say I've just been calmer (as I've matured)."

The 36-year-old had long made clear his plans to play through until the 2023 ODI World Cup.

But as his form dropped and a niggling shoulder problem started to set in, Finch realised in the past fortnight there would be no revival in his batting like there was before the 2019 tournament.

"I'm very, very confident that I wouldn't have made it that far just with my body and everything as well as a bit of form," Finch conceded on Saturday.

"I thought about it in the lead-up to the Zimbabwe series (starting last month).

"You need to be able to give the new captain as much space and time to start to ingrain that way that they want to play and take the team forward."