Australian skipper Aaron Finch claimed that he backed teammate and opening partner David Warner to win the player of the tournament award in the T20 World Cup despite his poor run of form. Warner made significant contributions in the semifinal and final and finished as the second highest run-getter to bag the prestigious player of the tournament award on Sunday (November 15) after Australia’s maiden world title win in T20Is.
However, there were question marks over his spot in the XI following his poor run in the IPL that saw him lose captaincy and eventually his place as well. “I certainly did,” Finch told the media when asked if he expected Warner to win the man of the tournament award. “Without a word of a lie, I promise you, I called Justin Langer a few months ago and said, ‘Don’t worry about Davey, he’ll be Man of the Tournament.’
“I thought Adam Zampa should have been Man of the Tournament personally, but he’s a great player. He’s one of the all-time great batters. And he’s a fighter. He’s someone who when his back is against the wall, that’s when you get the very, very best of David Warner. It was a special finish to the tournament for him, the last couple of knocks.”
Finch also credited his team’s performance with the new ball in the final that saw Australia restrict New Zealand to just 57 in the first half of their innings. Even though New Zealand managed to recover and post a strong 172 on the board, half-centuries from Warner and Mitchell Marsh sealed the deal for Australia. “I thought the way that we bowled with the new ball in that power play was obviously really important,” Finch said. “That first ten overs to restrict New Zealand to, I think 57. But we knew that one down, it was always going to be tough because the dew started to come down quite heavy which we had not seen at all in the tournament so far.
“I think the turning point was when I got out, for Mitch Marsh to be able to come in and play the way that he did. He was outstanding. That partnership with David was brilliant; the way that they put the pressure back on the opposition was exactly what was needed at the time.”
Reserving special praise for Marsh, who was named the man of the match in the final for his unbeaten 77, Finch pointed out that the decision to promote him to number 3 was taken just before the T20I series in West Indies. The move allowed Australia to use Steve Smith in the middle order to counter the slower bowlers in UAE’s spin-friendly conditions.
“He (Marsh) is the nicest person you will ever meet in your life,” Finch. “He’s obviously a special player. To be able to put up with the critics for so long, when his performance hasn’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination and any format of the game, if you look at his ODI numbers they are very good. For him to keep coming back after people keep doubting him shows how much of a quality person he is.
“Mitch’s move to No. 3 was a really important one in the West Indies. We felt as though he’s someone who could play – he obviously plays fast bowling very well. Growing up in the WACA, he’s very, very dominant off the back foot. He’s someone who loves the contest, loves the challenge. And we just backed him from the start. We committed to him batting No. 3 for a long time. He knew that, and that was – that’s all you need sometimes. You need a little bit of backing and you need some confidence from everybody else. And I think it was the first ball he faced in the practise game, the first practise game against New Zealand where he hit for six, also. That just shows the confidence that he has.”
The 34-year-old admitted that his luck with the toss throughout the tournament did play a factor in his side’s successful campaign. Teams batting second appeared to have a distinct advantage as a result of the dew and Australia managed to win the toss six times in seven games – including the semifinal and final. “It did play a big factor to be honest,” he said. “I tried to play it down as much as I could because I thought at some point in the tournament I’m going to lose a toss and we’ll have to bat first. But it did play a big part. You saw at the end there, the dew factor, the slow balls weren’t holding in the wicket as much. I don’t know how I did it. Maybe it was just fate.
“T20 cricket, you need a bit of luck. Don’t get me wrong; of course you need a bit of luck, and we won six out of seven tosses, which goes a long way. But we played some really good cricket. We played cricket where we put teams on the back foot because we are aggressive. We knew the middle overs against spin, particularly leg spin, we understand that it has not been our strength. We are really, really committed to staying positive and aggressive against spin, and that showed tonight. I thought the way Mitch and Davey played against New Zealand – sure, they got a four-for in the semifinal but they kept attacking.”
With so much talk revolving around bio-bubble fatigue, Australia’s first-choice players didn’t play together in the build-up to the tournament with some of them opting to rest for the tours to Bangladesh and West Indies. Not playing non-stop cricket eventually helped the players remain mentally and physically fresh at the back end of the tournament, according to the Australian skipper.
“So the guys’ preparations for this tournament were at different stages,” he noted. “Some were at IPL, some were at their state present and some were rehabbing and coming off injury. Yeah, I think that played a part as well. To be mentally fresh towards the back end of the tournament, physically fresh as well, I think was a really important part.
“I think there’s been so much talk about this being the one that’s been elusive to Australia. And to be fair, we probably underperformed in the past, if we are being honest with ourselves. We’ve had some great teams along the way. This team is pretty special. The camaraderie, the way that everyone really cares for each other and looks after each other, looks out for each other; pretty special.”
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