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Comment: Finch and Bailey answer their critics

The Roar logo The Roar 16-01-2016 Ronan O'Connell

George Bailey and Aaron Finch both are targets of constant criticism. In back-to-back match-winning knocks Bailey has fended off his many domestic challengers, while Finch’s ODI record over the past two year demands respect.

Neither player quite fits the mould – Bailey’s smiles-per-minute ratio is sky high for an Australian captain and Finch’s bottom-handed, bludgeoning approach is pug-ugly.

The former’s international career looked like it may be over when he was shoved aside so Michael Clarke could return for the World Cup.

The latter is constantly criticised – read the comments section of any story or live blog on an Australian ODI match and you’ll encounter people who are shocked Finch continues to get a game.

Many Australian fans are not convinced by Finch, regardless of the runs he makes. When I picked my Australian squad for the World T20 this week, six Roarers in the comments section said Finch should not be in the team.

Yet this is a man who is the world’s number one ranked batsman in T20s, is the Australian captain and who averages 40 for his country at a lightning strike rate of 152.

Not to mention he’s the third highest runscorer in the current Big Bash League, with 246 runs at 49, despite having played just five matches.

Yet many people don’t think he should be in either of Australia’s limited overs teams. Early in his ODI career Finch certainly did not look up to international standard.

His first seven matches saw him return just 105 runs at 15, with a highest score of 38. Brought into the team for his ability to get after new ball bowlers, Finch was having trouble just getting them of the square, with a dawdling strike rate of 70 in that early period.

George Bailey of Australia and Glenn Maxwell celebrate victory after game two of the Victoria Bitter One Day International Series. © Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images George Bailey of Australia and Glenn Maxwell celebrate victory after game two of the Victoria Bitter One Day International Series.

Since then, however, Finch has blossomed into one of the elite opening batsmen in the game, making 1839 runs at 42, including six hundreds from 47 matches.

Those are not the figures of a fringe batsman – they are fantastic numbers which explain why Finch is a lock in the ODI team.

Yesterday he played a mature, calm innings of 71 which placed his side in a strong position as they pursued India’s 8-308.

His commendable work at the top of the order was built upon by Bailey. From the moment the Australian skipper sauntered to the crease he looked in command.

So fluent was his innings of 76 from 58 balls that it took the pressure off his batting partners, who were not required to hit out in an effort to keep up with the 7rpo required run rate.

As he did during his composed ton at the WACA in the series opener, Bailey chose the right balls to attack and expertly turned good deliveries into singles and twos. It was clinical 50-over batting.

In the lead up to the World Cup, I doubted Bailey, just like many other cricket followers did. There was good reason for our pessimism – he had averaged just 21 in his 22 matches prior to that tournament.

When Clarke bumped him out of the way to reclaim the ODI leadership, it seemed Bailey’s international career could be over.

With a glut of batsmen making 50-over runs at the domestic level, and Steve Smith a readymade replacement as captain, his future was uncertain.

Not anymore it’s not. In the space of two brilliant knocks this week Bailey has re-stamped his authority on the Australian team.

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