Finch’s bolters: fresh faces to supercharge WC bid
Josh Phillippe, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Ben McDermott and Matthew Wade are the leading candidates to power up Australia's unstable middle order at this year's Twenty20 World Cup in India.
Captain Aaron Finch will lead a squad of Big Bash All-Stars to New Zealand for a five-match T20 series starting next month, which will expose Australia's depth due to the Test team travelling to South Africa at the same time.
With the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc likely to stick with the red-ball squad, Finch said the trans-Tasman series would deliver valuable information on Australia's next rung of T20 hopefuls.
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The likes of Jhye Richardson (Perth Scorchers), Daniel Sams (Sydney Thunder), Alex Carey (Strikers) and D'Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes) are tipped to press their claims against the Kiwis, just six months before the ICC's first men's T20 World Cup in more than five years.
While Australia's top order of Finch, Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell is rock-solid, and its frontline attack is similarly sturdy, the search for middle-order specialists who can ice run chases is still on.
Ashton Turner appears to have fallen down the pecking order while Stoinis and Wade would need to adapt to a different role given they are used as openers in franchise T20 cricket.
"You've got to be planning well ahead for World Cups, so when you've got one in India (2021) and one in Australia (2022) in two years you have to be doing your talent scouting and seeing who might be able to fill roles should some vacancies turn up," Finch said on Saturday, before reeling off the names of five fringe players.
"I'm going to try and name everyone, because honestly there's so many names.
"When you look at the list and the chats you have with selectors a lot of people get talked about.
"For this tour of New Zealand selection of the Test squad will depend on who gets opportunities.
"It's probably not ideal having two Australian teams playing at the same time, but it's going to give us a lot of information going forward."
Finch's good mate and Australian assistant Andrew McDonald will take the reins in New Zealand.
Selectors will name the Test and T20 squads after the Border-Gavaskar series has finished.
Coach Justin Langer is frustrated that Australia will be playing red-ball and white-ball tours concurrently, an occurrence which also happened in 2017.
That T20 series saw Big Bash favourites Michael Klinger, Ben Dunk, Moises Henriques and James Faulkner represent Australia in a home series lost 2-1 against Sri Lanka.
MCG IS IN THE MIX TO HOST BBL FINALS
Cricket Australia says every Big Bash League venue remains in the mix to host finals with tournament organisers hopeful to pull off a playoff series as close to a traditional home-and-away format as possible.
Under the recently-revamped finals system, the top five clubs qualify and the top four teams earn the right to host a final.
Club bosses are expected to meet this week to discuss the fairest way to finish the season and could be asked to nominate an alternative home ground should their state border be locked during the January 29 to February 6 series.
Most clubs will finish the season playing in Melbourne and there was a whisper that the MCG and Marvel Stadium could be used to stage finals regardless of who was involved.
Adelaide Oval has also been floated as a finals venue should the series finish in one or two hubs to limit costs and the risks involved with moving teams interstate.
"I got made aware of that last night (the possibility of the MCG hosting finals)," Stars captain Glenn Maxwell told News Corp on Saturday.
"Even so, we've still got a lot of work to do (to qualify).
"I think it's about cutting down the travel and potential exposure for commercial flights.
"For our sake hopefully it's here, but whatever it is we'll adjust. I actually don't know."
Stars are targeting their first BBL trophy and Ricky Ponting has backed them to storm into the finals after a mid-season slump.
Under super skipper Maxwell they have played off in back-to-back Grand Finals and won seven of their past nine games at the MCG.
The Sydney franchises sit on top of the ladder despite no matches being scheduled in New South Wales.
Sixers general manager Jodie Hawkins said it was premature to expect the MCG would host finals, and the venue said it is still awaiting guidance from CA.
"The conversation to now has been that we would attempt to go home and away, but obviously with the changing border situations it's still very fluid," Hawkins said.
"As far as I'm aware there's no decision to play it in Melbourne at all at this point.
"We're leaving it as late as possible to give all home teams the option of hosting finals in their home city, pending border situations."
Originally published as Finch's bolters: fresh faces to supercharge WC bid