White-ball star finally set for Test recognition
THE time is now for Aaron Finch and his stunning recent haul of white ball runs looks set to land him a Test berth on Tuesday amid a mood of uncertainty about Australia's batting stocks.
Finch, 31, looms as one of three or four potential new faces in the 15-man squad coach Justin Langer will take to Pakistan in October for two Tests in the UAE in October.
The absence of suspended trio Steve Smith, Dave Warner and Cameron Bancroft has opened the door for change and Finch, along with fellow Victorian Glenn Maxwell, could be among the beneficiaries.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns has been in India with the Australia A team where Mitch Marsh, who is set to be offered the vice-captaincy on Tuesday, secured his Test spot with a century in a four-day game against India A, as did incumbent batsman Usman Khawaja.
All-rounder Marsh, who overcame disciplinary trouble as a youngster, is set to be rewarded with the vice-captaincy after maturing into a true leader within the Australian set-up.
However, the role has proven somewhat of a poisoned chalice over recent years.
Michael Clarke admitted in his autobiography that he was a poor No.2 to Ricky Ponting, before Shane Watson failed to gel with Clarke when he took over the top job.
Most recently, Cricket Australia banned deputy Warner from ever serving in a leadership position again following his involvement in the now infamous ball-tampering events in South Africa earlier this year.
The board must rubber-stamp the vice-captaincy nomination tabled to them by selectors, but it's unlikely they would block Marsh being instilled for this series at least.
Of the next line of batting contenders South Australian Travis Head performed best while South African-born Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne could be a bolter for the UAE series after scores of 60 and 37 in the opening match against India A.
Noise was also growing around a return for resurgent quick Peter Siddle, who is 33 but has taken 34 wickets in English county cricket this season, to help a pace attack minus Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Marsh, captain of the "A" team in India, made a case for Victorian Chris Tremain, who has toiled well in two matches on the subcontinent.
"He's the sort of bloke who will do anything the captain wants him to do and he's very skilful," he said.
A late afternoon phone hook-up on Monday between Langer and the selection panel was set to confirm the squad which will play Australia's first Test since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Langer recently said he didn't know who the best six batsmen in Australia were, but wanted to reward performance, not talent, a big tick for Finch.
The Victorian blasted a competition high 589 runs at an average of 147 for Surrey in just nine matches in the English domestic T20 competition, coming off a world record 172 for Australia in a T20 against Zimbabwe in July.
He was also elevated to Surrey's first class team for the first time, making scores of 43 and 32 to underline his red ball credentials, having also scored more than 1200 runs for the Vics in the past two Sheffield Shield seasons.
Last Friday Finch tweeted a picture of himself at a promotional shoot for one of Cricket Australia's sponsors, wearing the Test uniform.
Victorian spinner Jon Holland is certain to share the spin duties with Nathan Lyon after taking nine wickets against India A last week, including 6-81 in the second innings.
Queensland's Michael Neser, who made his ODI debut in England in June, could be picked as the fourth seamer after his good performances for Australia A.
Get ready for cricket like never before. FREE Sport HD + Entertainment until the first 4K cricket ball as part of 3 months free on a 12 month plan. SIGN UP TODAY. T&Cs apply.