Aaron Finch’s ODI retirement is undoubtedly a well-timed call for Australians

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With a mere tally of 169 runs from 13 ODI innings in 2022, Aaron Finch seemed in a helpless state almost every time he walked out in the middle to open for Australia as skipper. Thus, considering the upcoming 50-over World Cup next year, his retirement call could not have come at any better time.

After leading Australia to their first-ever T20 World Cup last year, limited-overs captain Aaron Finch has decided to retire from ODIs following their series against New Zealand in Cairns on Sunday. It was coming after Finch’s miserable ODI record this year, including five ducks. Moreover, he averages only 13 this year, which, of course, fails to impress the others to lead by example. After all, he is captaining Australia, a country that boasts of rich history in the sport. Hence, the performance of their leaders matters there.

Furthermore, there are a lot of expectations for Finch in the coming months. The next T20 World Cup will take place in his homeland, and naturally, Finch will be in focus if his side can become the first team to defend the title. It will be tough for sure, as everyone can imagine. But his retirement from the 50-overs format, along with his long-standing absence from Test cricket, will help him to ease the pressure on himself.

Not to forget, in terms of notching up hundreds, Finch, Australia’s 24th men’s ODI captain, is all set to finish his 50-over career as the fourth-most successful (17 in 145 matches) batter among his countrymates. Only Ricky Ponting (29 in 374 games), his partner-in-crime David Warner (18 in 138 games), and Mark Waugh (18 in 244 games) are above him in this elite list. Notably, in another chart among the Aussie captains who have hit most ODI hundreds, Finch sits second with six three-digit scores, only after Ponting (22).

Finch enjoyed his best calendar year in this format in 2019, when he plundered 1,141 runs in 23 innings at an impressive average of 51.9 and a strike rate of 89.4. His eagerness to make runs was evident in 2020 as well, aggregating 673 runs in 13 innings. But then, he sustained a knee injury in West Indies, which forced him not to play a single ODI in 2021. From there on, his exceptional prowess began to roll downwards. Keeping his overall ODI average (39.7) in mind, Finch would love to finish things off with a substantial knock to drive it past 40.

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“It has been a fantastic ride with some incredible memories. 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,” Finch said in a statement released by Cricket Australia (CA). “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.”

So now at this moment, the biggest question among Australians is who will succeed Finch at the helm? There have been a few candidates, including Glenn Maxwell, and the star duo who were involved in the ball-tampering fiasco – David Warner and Steven Smith. However, above them, Pat Cummins, considering his delicious success since taking over Australia’s Test captain’s role last year, should be their best bet for the job. But again, the appointment will be totally dependent on how the CA feels about the next project.

“On behalf of Australian Cricket, I would like to congratulate Aaron on his vast contribution as captain of the Australian Men’s ODI team and as a wonderful exponent of the 50-over format,” Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s CEO said in a statement.

“Aaron is an enormously gifted and determined player whose outstanding deeds with the bat have been matched by his strong and inspiring leadership. 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.”

Having made his debut in 2013, Finch is set to call it the day in the ODIs after 146 appearances. So far ahead of his one last dance in the format on Sunday, his tally of 5,401 runs striking at 87.83 might not allow him to compare with the greats, but yet, it was not that bad either. More importantly, his 50-100 conversion rate in ODIs is the second-best in the history among his countrymates, only behind Warner. Yes, now you know just how underrated he had been throughout his career.

Keeping Australia’s next big two assignments – T20 World Cup and ODI World Cup – in back-to-back years in mind, it was undoubtedly the right move at the right time by Finch to hang up his boots. And now the time will tell if his successor can take the challenge and match his leadership qualities, for which he has been highly praised across the world.

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