CRICKET POST COVID-19
“In the really short term, we just having to be focused on making sure that world cricket is back up and running.” © AFP
He and his fellow white-ball regulars might end up seeing more of their Indian counterparts than their own Test teammates most years. His opening partner might have developed an incessant love for Indian dance moves while being marooned at home. But Australia’s white-ball captain, Aaron Finch, insists that the edge between India and Australia is as sharp as ever even when they face each other in ODIs and T20Is. That it’s just confined to their much talked about rivalry in Test cricket.
“It’s hard to compare. One is the traditional game and the grind of the five days wherever it is, India or in Australia, that mental battle day to day. I think the one-day game is a little bit more skill-based just on the day obviously, if a couple of players in your team have a day out, that goes a long way in winning the game. The rivalry is definitely there 100 per cent. It’s not a case of that being any less important or taken any less lightly because it’s a one-dayer or T20I or a Test match,” Finch said on Tuesday (June 30).
On a day, Australia’s scheduled three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe at home was postponed indefinitely, Finch admitted that he didn’t know when his team’s “next game would be”. He, however, hinted that a tour of England in September could in all likelihood signal Australia’s return to international cricket, even if the possibility of that going ahead was still up in the air.
“In our minds we were planning for Zimbabwe, we’re planning for England. All going well that England tour I think – I think that was our next game wasn’t it? That’s what we’re planning for. As a player I know in my mind I’m preparing to go to England to play; whether that happens we’ll wait and see,” he said.
In a world riddled with uncertainty, sport and cricket, in particular, is trying to put in place a biosecure model that could make its immediate future sustainable. West Indies have spent a few weeks already in England in that scenario and are currently playing their second warm-up game before the first Test against the hosts in a week’s time. According to Finch, the road going ahead for cricketers would be around being “ultra flexible” and make sure that all decisions are taken with a focus on the “best interests of world cricket”.
“We just have to be really conscious of being ultra-flexible – and there might be a tour that comes up on relatively short notice. Because we could get that and that’d be brilliant, whatever it takes, I know all the players are in the same boat. I know all of Cricket Australia, the ACA – whatever we have to do to get a game up and going, is in the best interests of world cricket, we’ll be looking to do that,” he said.
While the Australian cricket season wasn’t affected to any great extent by the Covid-19 outbreak, they have subsequently now put off a tour to Bangladesh and now the home series against Zimbabwe, who haven’t toured here for a bilateral contest since 2003. Yet all the talk in the last few weeks with regards to Australian cricket and its health has revolved around India’s tour Down Under at the end of the year and now the restart is said to be scheduled in England. But Finch doesn’t believe it has anything to do with the future make-up of world cricket in terms of who plays who more often or even the importance of the scheduled ODI league.
“It just comes down to doing whatever’s needed for world cricket to be back up and running and for all countries to be thriving and having the best opportunity to be successful. I think if you start looking at it as ‘we need to play against a certain opposition’ or something like that for your own betterment, that’s when a lot of things can fall down,” he said.
“In the really short term, we just having to be focused on making sure that world cricket is back up and running and as many countries as possible are in a great state to be competing. I don’t think that right the be-all and end-all is where you finish in rankings for a World Cup or anything like that, I just think the health of world cricket is important, and whatever that looks like. And there’ll be some teams that probably have a tougher challenge to get where they need to be, but I think say over the next 10 years, that will all even itself out,” he added.
On the issue of finding the right balance, he believed it was exactly what the BBL has been looking to find with regards to having the best players around Australia being a part of it and keeping them fresh for international action.
“Having been in one or two of the schedule [meetings], the fixturing and stuff like that, the smallest change has a huge impact down the line the whole way. Having everyone available for the entire tournament would be the ultimate goal, but having guys mentally fresh, physically fresh in between a packed international schedule is as important in my opinion. If you’re depriving Steven Smith of two extra years of his career because he’s literally playing or training every day, then I think we’re all going to be worse off as cricket lovers in the end,” he explained.
Speaking of looking ahead, Finch also spoke about the importance of being “ultra well-planned” for the next 50-over World Cup in 2023. He insisted that teams needed to have a blueprint and a clear structure in place if they were serious in planning to win the title and “winging it” wasn’t going to help.
“We probably left it too late last time. There was obviously Justin coming in quite late in the four-year cycle and we gave a really good fist of it. So we’re really determined to be ultra well-planned in this one to make sure that we’re leaving no stone unturned in terms of where we think the game is heading and where we need to go,” he said.