Aaron Finch and Australia brace for short-ball treatment from West Indies

Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch

Aaron Finch expects an aggressive onslaught from West Indies – with both bat and ball – when the two sides meet at Trent Bridge on Thursday. Both teams enter the match off the back of seven-wicket wins in their opening World Cup matches: Australia made short work of Afghanistan, while West Indies swept Pakistan away with a fierce display of fast short-pitched bowling.

“I think it’ll be an aggressive game, no doubt,” said Finch. “West Indies play an entertaining brand of cricket and we feel as though we do the same thing so I think it’ll be a bit of a feeling-out process. No doubt they will come hard at the bat, they always do. It is probably one of their main strengths, trying to put teams on the back foot early. So, if we can put the ball in the right area and get a couple of wickets that will be key. And with the bat, they are going to come hard and aggressively, they always do. So, it’ll just be about playing the situation and not trying to overthink it or play the game in your head before it has started.”

The two sides faced each other in a warm-up game in Southampton before the start of the tournament, which Australia won comfortably by seven wickets after chasing down the West Indies total of 229 in the 39th over. Australia had a taste of West Indies’ short-ball tactics in that match and are bracing for more of the same in Nottingham.

“Yeah, it wasn’t much different in the warm-up match as well,” said Finch. “It is obviously going to be a tactic of theirs and a plan. We will be as well-prepared as we can be. I think over the last little while we have been aware that teams are going to use it [the short ball] a lot more and that is one of our plans, so we have been facing a lot of it in the nets as well. So, we’ll be as well-placed as we can be.”

While the Australians are naturally more experienced facing pace and bounce in their home conditions, coach Justin Langer pointed out that much of their World Cup preparation was focussed on facing spin in subcontinent settings, and later in the UAE.

“Yeah, one thing that we have to adapt to, and we talked about it this morning, is that we’ve probably spent four months thinking and playing against spin bowling,” said Langer. “If you think about it we played India throughout the summer in the back end of the one-days. Went to India played T20 and one-days there, then in the UAE.”

“So our focus was almost solely made on playing spin-bowling. Now we have to change. We’ve seen in this tournament that there has been some good, fast bowling so far.”

Andre Russell’s three-over spell was crucial in Pakistan’s capitulation and the allrounder, who played just two ODIs between the 2015 World Cup and the current tournament, is expected to be fit for the match despite limping heavily after the game against Pakistan. Finch expects his opposite number Jason Holder to use Russell in a similar fashion against Australia.

“We know that he is not going to be bowling 5 or 6-over spells with his body, his knees are a bit cooked these days,” said Finch. “But for him, whether he has got the bat or ball in hand, he has such an impact about him and presence. So, that’ll just be an individual plan, how guys go about that. You can’t start planning things too far in your head otherwise you forget to watch the ball and it is a tough game then.”

Finch will be relying on his own quicks to subdue Chris Gayle, hoping lessons learned in the IPL and the Big Bash League will help his bowlers find a weakness in Gayle’s attacking game.

“You have to be right on, you have to be super disciplined with your line and length, and also be a bit unpredictable, so it contradicts itself a bit,” said Finch. “But, if you keep bowling the same ball over and over he will look to dominate you. He looks to dominate attacks early to put you on the back foot, into a defensive mindset. Guys who can take the game away from you quickly if you don’t get them out, they are going to do it regardless, you can’t stop them scoring heavily.

“So you just have to keep being positive and aggressive and keep taking the wicket-taking option.” (ESPNCricinfo)