Australia’s men’s team have won their first ODI series for the year, but that win was not accompanied by a return to 50-over runs for the captain Aaron Finch, intensifying questions about whether he will be able to reach his preordained retirement date at the end of next year’s World Cup in India.
Steve Smith and Alex Carey delivered the winning partnership as Australia sealed their three-match series against Zimbabwe in Townsville via a comfortable eight-wicket win with 212 balls to spare.
But they needed to do so after Finch fell to the left-armer Richard Ngarava (2-16) for the second time in as many games.
Finch edged to first slip for one, while David Warner was also out to Ngarava, slicing to deep third for 13 off nine balls.
The manner of Finch’s exit, sparring uncertainly at a delivery going across him after dragging a slightly straighter ball onto his stumps on Sunday, betrayed a lack of confidence. This despite plenty of off-season work on his batting mechanics with head coach Andrew McDonald and assistant Michael Di Venuto.
Starkly, his ODI body of work in 2022 is by a distance the worst of Finch’s career: 159 runs at a mere 15.9 and a strike rate of 73.95 stands out over a decade in which he has never previously averaged worse than 28, nor struck at less than 80 runs per 100 balls.
FINCH’S ODI DECADE
- 2013: 514 runs at 30.23, 92.11 strike rate
- 2014: 790 runs at 43.88, 84.04 strike rate
- 2015: 561 runs at 40.07, 88.34 strike rate
- 2016: 655 runs at 28.47, 94.10 strike rate
- 2017: 405 runs at 50.62, 92.67, strike rate
- 2018: 493 runs at 44.81, 89.47 strike rate
- 2019: 1141 runs at 51.86 89.42 strike rate
- 2020: 673 runs at 56.08, 81.67 strike rate
- 2021: No ODIs
- 2022: 159 runs at 15.90, 73.95 strike rate
That was to be the only blight on a convincing performance at Riverway Stadium, as Smith (47 not out), who said in the lead-up that he’s playing with freedom in his game, hit his second consecutive unbeaten knock to steer Australia 2-0 up in the series with one game to play.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey finished unbeaten on 26.