Aaron Finch announces ODI retirement, backs Steve Smith as new leader | Sport

Aaron Finch plans to fight on into next month’s Twenty20 World Cup, despite the white-ball captain announcing his retirement from one-day cricket.

“It has been a fantastic ride with some incredible memories,” Finch said. “I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of some brilliant one-day sides. Equally, I have been blessed by all those I have played with and the many people behind the scenes.

“It is time now to give a new leader the best possible opportunity to prepare for and win the next World Cup. I thank all of those who have helped and supported my journey to this point.”

Out of form and with his spot in the side in doubt, Finch, 35, confirmed Sunday’s ODI against New Zealand would be his last in the format for Australia.

“Being a bit over 12 months out from the 50-over World Cup, I thought the timing was right now,” Finch told reporters in Cairns.

“I could have tried to play another series – the series against England post World Cup – and that would have been a bit of a fairy tale finishing at the MCG, but I think that’s never been my style to be self-indulgent in any kind of way.”

Finch still intends to lead Australia’s charge in the T20 format, with Cricket Australia confirming he plans to lead the country in next month’s world title defence.

“Aaron is an enormously gifted and determined player whose outstanding deeds with the bat have been matched by his strong and inspiring leadership,” Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said. “His decision to step aside from the ODI captaincy now is typical of his selfless approach to the game.

“I’m delighted Aaron will lead the Australian team into the forthcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup where his leadership, experience and tactical nous will be integral to the defence of our T20 World Cup title on home soil.”

Whether Finch continues in the 20-over format after the World Cup and summer’s Big Bash League, that will be a decision for another day, he said. For now his focus remains on a T20 title defence on home soil.

“I’d like to,” Finch said of whether he’d continue in T20s following the summer schedule. “Being able to spend a little bit more time at home with Amy and Esther, watching her grow up as well is important.

“My family sacrificed a lot for me to be able to do what I’ve done, and what I’ve loved doing, so it’s probably my turn to repay the favour a little bit.”

Australia’s leader since 2018, Finch has played 145 matches – 54 as captain.

One of the most damaging opening batters in the world when at his best, he has made over 5000 runs in the format and averaged close to 40. Finch twice held the record for the highest score in a T20I: his 172 against Zimbabwe in 2018, surpassed his swashbuckling 156 against England in 2013.

But those numbers have taken a significant hit in recent years, averaging 14.6 in 2022 while failing to pass 20 in his last seven innings. His call to retire came after his fifth duck across all formats this year.

Finch debuted against Sri Lanka in 2013 with his 17 centuries fourth only to Ricky Ponting, David Warner and Mark Waugh in one-day cricket for Australia.

The right-hander played a key part in Australia’s 2015 one-day World Cup success before leading the team to the semi-finals in the 2019 tournament.

Born in the Victorian country town of Colac, Finch made his Test debut in 2018 on the back of his white-ball form, scoring 62 and 49 on debut in Dubai against Pakistan, but endured a form slump in the home 2018-19 season and was dropped from the side after just five Tests, never to return.

Finch’s decision to retire leaves Australia searching for a new one-day captain ahead of next year’s World Cup, with Test skipper Pat Cummins previously indicating he does not want to lead the side.

Finch said he sees no issue with former captain Steve Smith taking the reins four years after sandpaper gate stripped him of the role. Finch, however, could not see why the 2018 ball-tampering scandal should stand in Smith’s way if he wanted to return to the captaincy and was best fit.

“I don’t think (it would be an issue),” Finch said. “He captained a Test match in Adelaide after Pat was out with COVID. So I think that’s all been put to bed.”

Finch also believed Smith had several years ahead of him with the right-hander aged 33 and one of 11 players in their 30s in Australia’s current ODI squad.

Australia’s ODI captain before the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, Smith immediately played a tactical role in setting fields on his return to the team the next year.

However, Finch said if any player could juggle the captaincy of all three formats at once it was Cummins. However a big issue would likely be Cummins’ availability as he was rested from 28 of 65 matches in the past four years.

“It’s pretty hard but I think if anyone can manage it it’d be Pat,” Finch said. “He is an unbelievably resilient person. He has shown brilliant leadership of the Test group and I’ve loved working with him.

“He takes everything in his stride. He’s got all the tools to do that.”

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