Australia T20 skipper Finch retires from internationals after “amazing ride”

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Australia T20 captain Aaron Finch announced his retirement from internationals on Tuesday, drawing a line under a career that yielded two World Cup trophies and more than 8,000 runs across formats.

A hard-hitting opening batsman and keen tactician, the amiable 36-year-old bows out as one of his country’s greatest limited-overs players and as the captain who delivered Australia a first global T20 title in the United Arab Emirates in 2021. Also the former one-day skipper, Finch retired from the 50-over game last September and then took the home summer to decide on his T20 future after Australia’s World Cup title defence ended before the semi-finals.

At his home Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he savoured his first World Cup triumph in the 50-over tournament in 2015, Finch said it was time for a successor to make a mark.

“Today, fully, I think the time is right to let the T20 team move on into a new phase, particularly with a World Cup coming up in 2024,” he told reporters. “I think that the time is right to allow them enough time and space to allow a new captain to take over and move the team in their direction.

“It’s been a pretty amazing ride.”

Though a declining output of runs preceded his ODI retirement, Finch had an excellent tournament in the recent Big Bash League, smashing 428 runs at an average of 38.9 to help guide the Melbourne Renegades into their first finals series in the T20 tournament in three years. However, it was not enough to convince the stocky Victorian to continue, and he looked forward to spending time with his wife Amy and one-year-old daughter Esther.

“When you’re on the road for best part of 12 years you go through some highs and you go through some lows, and to always have my family there to support me has been amazing,” he said.

“And that’s always been unwavering, so I’m very thankful for that.”

From humble beginnings playing cricket in the sleepy rural town of Colac, Finch finishes with 3,120 runs in T20Is at an average of 34.28, owning two of the three highest scores in the format, including his world record 172 against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2018.

He smashed 5,406 ODI runs at an average of 38.89 and opened for the formidable team captained by Michael Clarke, who won the 50-over showpiece on home soil in 2015.

Test cricket was the one format where success proved elusive.

He came into the side late in 2018 to replace David Warner after the opener was suspended for ball-tampering but lasted five matches before dumped mid-series against India.

The first season of the Amazon docu-series “The Test” revealed the pressure he felt behind closed doors as media and fans queried his place in the team.

There was strain through several deep form slumps with the bat in recent years.

But in public Finch was untouchable in his easy-going confidence. He promised the runs would come and more success for Australia was around the corner.

Invariably, he was right, and his calm leadership proved invaluable as his written-off team clicked in the United Arab Emirates to win a first T20 World Cup.

Finch will be hard to replace as both captain and opener, but he said it would be too much for test and one-day skipper Pat Cummins to lead in all three formats.

He offered up former skipper Steve Smith as a possible successor for the captaincy while suggesting selectors could also look at Travis Head and Ashton Turner.

“Whichever way they go, the team is in great hands,” he said.