‘Special’ Finch key to stunning resurgence
It’s been terrific for the Melbourne Renegades that recruit Tom Rogers has delivered and taken a team-high 21 wickets as they jumped from wooden-spooners last year and in to the Big Bash finals.
The massive impact of West Indian star Andre Russell is his four games was telling and the early season efforts of new international spin twins Akeal Hosein Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who snared 21 poles between them before leaving was also huge.
But it’s hard to deny the special efforts of Aaron Finch, who has been with the red team since season one of the Big Bash, who captained them for nine of seasons, leading them to the lone title in 2019, are hard to top in the Renegades’ revival.
His match-winning 63 not out in the final game of the regular season, coming in with his team 2-14 needing to chase down 142 to secure a finals spot, was as good an innings as he’s ever played in the Big Bash according to his coach, David Saker.
It came after he blasted Scorchers’ stalwart Andrew Tye, the second greatest wicket-taker in BBL history, for 31 off a single over in Perth, a BBL record.
Both were special efforts from a special player, who blasted more than 8500 international runs in a career for Australia which potentially isn’t regarded, by some anyway, for the brilliant one it was given his struggles on the way out.
They were efforts of a man who said to his teammates “climb aboard”, determined not to miss out on their chance at another BBL title, a chance which goes on the line on Sunday night at Marvel Stadium.
Taking back the captaincy, without a question, after a season-ending injury to Nic Maddinson, 36-year-old Finch has taken his game right to the levels his team needed when it mattered most.
“The great thing about players like Finchy is they have been in a lot of tough positions in their career so they have something to draw on when it’s like that,” Saker said this week of Finch who leads his team with 418 runs this season.
“Him batting at four has really helped our group too, there’s always that sense of “we’ve got Finchy to bat” that gives everyone some sort of confidence.
“The innings the other night was one of his special innings because that was a tough wicket to bat on. When the ball moves around Finchy has been known not to be that good a player. But he took it to another level.
“I said to him after the game that was one of his best T20 innings ever and he nearly agreed, domestically anyway. To get that result out of him in such a clutch game was amazing.
“He’s done everything, he’s won World Cups, he’s done it all for Australia but he’s still got that hunger to play for the Renegades.”
Finch has had to fire in the absence of anything big from New Zealand international Martin Guptill, who Saker conceded “hadn’t delivered”, with 36 being his highest score in 10 innings so far.
But the coach was adamant Guptill was a big game player, and that special knock was coming.
Finch found his own way out of a scoring rut towards the end of his ODI career, and the unsuccessful T20 World Cup defence, to land in the sweet spot at just the right time for the Renegades.
“When you are playing so much cricket I think if you are in a bit of a rut you’ll get out of it because you are playing so much,” Saker said.
“He played a couple of good innings early in the season and then he gets in to this rhythm of how he wants to bat and sometimes when you are playing international cricket you might play two or three games then have a rest for a month and then play again and it’s hard to get in to that rhythm.
“The last few games he has got right in to that. A lot of it is about determination and the way he is, his will to win is as strong as anyone, he finds a way to make it work for him.”
While there appears a gulf between the top two teams in the BBL, perennial finalists Perth and the Sydney Sixers, Saker is adamant the Renegades best game is good enough to take them on.
He said they haven’t played a “perfect game” so far this season, one which yielded seven wins, and now could be the time to unleash it.
“We haven’t put it all together, we’re happy we’ve won seven games but we’re not happy it ends now,” he said.
“So that’s a worry for an opposition, because I think if we do get our batting and bowling going together, we can beta anybody. we’ve talked a lot about that, putting that perfect game together, and hopefully it’s for the next three games.”
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