Maxwell hails crucial role of ‘brilliant’ leader Finch before World Cup defence

Glenn Maxwell has backed Aaron Finch to find form during Australia’s three-match tour of India and hailed the importance of the skipper as a dynamic on-field strategist before the start of their T20 World Cup title defence next month.

After a one-day series against New Zealand in north Queensland, where the struggling Finch retired from 50-over cricket, the Australian white-ball squad now begins fine-tuning its preparation for the T20 World Cup. Australia’s first pool game is against New Zealand in Sydney on October 22.

Finch and the Australia team fly out on Thursday for three T20 matches against India, before a hectic pre-tournament schedule during which they take on the West Indies twice, England three times and, finally, T20 powerhouses India.

It is ample opportunity for Finch to rediscover his touch and bank some runs, after struggling with seven single-figure scores in his past eight 50-over internationals.

“I think he will enjoy having these games in India and enjoy batting there,” Maxwell said.

“He will get to go back to Chandigarh, where he has played IPL with one of the eight franchises he has played for [Punjab Kings]. He will enjoy batting there and there are some nice wickets.”

Glenn Maxwell, captain Aaron Finch and Steve Smith with the Chappell-Hadlee trophy in Cairns after their ODI series victory over New Zealand on Sunday.Credit:Getty Images

Finch’s figures in T20 internationals make for better reading, averaging 30.9 from nine clashes this year. The all-time highest Australian run-getter in T20 internationals has also made two of the three highest scores in international T20s: 156 against England and 172 against Zimbabwe.

In 2021, Finch captained the unfancied Australian team to its first T20 World Cup triumph in the UAE. Maxwell said Finch’s value as a skipper in the short format was immense.

“We saw it a lot last year in the UAE – in that tournament, I thought he was outstanding with our whole bowling group,” Maxwell said.

“He was brilliant with the whole strategy side and the way he keeps the group nice and calm, and is able to communicate with the bowlers. It is a very underrated thing in Twenty20 cricket. You think it is all helter-skelter and go along with the plan, but he is really good tactically. Don’t discount his value as captain.”

Mitchell Starc, Aunty Fiona Clarke, Courtney Hagen, Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood at Australia’s T20 World Cup kit reveal at the SCG on Wednesday.Credit:Getty

Maxwell, a former flatmate of Finch, said he got emotional when his mate announced his one-day retirement out of nowhere, and paid tribute to his focused work as a leader, regardless of his run tally.

“And that’s a credit to him – obviously it wasn’t the easiest time over the last little bit in one-day cricket,” Maxwell said.

“But his attitude has never changed and the professionalism he brought to the team was brilliant. We are very thankful, for when he took over the job it was a pretty tough and he took care of the group and got them out the other side.

“We are all really proud of the way he led us, and thankful to have played under him.”

T20 specialist Tim David hits out for Southern Brave last month during The Hundred tournament in England.Credit:Getty

Maxwell and pace bowlers Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood showed off the new Australia uniform for the T20 World Cup, which carries First Nations designs made by Kirrae Whurrong woman Aunty Fiona Clarke, along with Butchulla and Gubbi Gubbi woman Courtney Hagen.

Starc said he was looking forward to catching up with new teammate Tim David, who will fly to India after being selected for Australia’s World Cup squad.

“I am looking forward to meeting him. He has obviously plied his trade around the world in different leagues and has his opportunity now in the World Cup squad and has this week in India to get amongst the group. A few of us will meet him for the first time and see what he is like,” Starc said.

“I am much the same as you guys. I have seen him on TV.”

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