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Finch returns to T20 captaincy

31 January 2017

Australia turn to opening batsman to lead inexperienced line-up that features four Perth Scorchers

Australia's limited-overs opener Aaron Finch has been reinstated as the nation's T20 captain for next month's three-match series against Sri Lanka.

With regular skipper Steve Smith leading Australia's Test squad in India at the same time, Finch – who led Australia in six T20Is between 2014 and 2016 – has been handed the job for a second time.

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It completes a whirlwind 24 hours for the 30-year-old, who on Monday became Australia's 24th ODI captain when Matthew Wade was a last-minute withdrawal from the first Chappell-Hadlee series ODI due to back spasms.

Finch will lead an inexperienced side that features four players from the Perth Scorchers, the BBL champions.

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Michael Klinger, Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson and Billy Stanlake are all in line to make their T20 international debuts in a squad that will be led by BBL player of the tournament Chris Lynn as well as ODI regulars Finch, Travis Head and James Faulkner.

Finch, who captains Melbourne Renegades in the KFC Big Bash League, was injured in the build-up to last year's ICC World T20 tournament in India, before selectors opted to install Smith as captain in all three formats.

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Less than 12 months later, he's back in the position and will lead what looks set to be an inexperienced Australia squad, with Test squad members Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Matthew Wade all unavailable for selection.

"There's not many bigger names in world cricket than that handful, especially in T20 cricket, there's so much experience there," Finch said upon his appointment.

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"But you can't dwell on that. I think it's a fantastic opportunity for guys who have performed well in the Big Bash to keep pressing their claims for other formats as well.

"When you look at the guys who have performed well (for Australia recently) – the younger guys in particular – a lot of it has been through opportunity of other people being injured, and they've come in and done exceptionally well.

"So I think that while there are some world-beaters missing out, there are some extraordinary young players around the country who will now get an opportunity, and that's only a good thing for Australian cricket – to keep giving these guys exposure at the highest level."

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Finch is far from the only change in leadership in the squad, with Justin Langer named head coach and his former Test teammates Ricky Ponting (batting) and Jason Gillespie (bowling) named as his assistants.

The Victorian said the presence of such legends would only enhance both the expectations on the side as well as their determination to perform both at training and in matches.

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"I've had the pleasure of working with all three of them in the past: 'JL' (Langer) during the West Indies tour (last year) and at the very start of my career when he was still Australia's batting coach; Ricky at the Mumbai Indians, albeit briefly before a snapped hammy sent me home; and a couple of years at Yorkshire with Jason Gillespie,” Finch said.

"They're three guys who know a lot about the game. They're three guys who are so highly respected – they just demand excellence from a group.

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"When you've got a group that will be coming together, it raises the bar. Training and playing in front of arguably one of the greatest of all time Ricky Ponting, JL and 'Dizzy' (Gillespie), it just makes (players) hungry to succeed and makes them hungry to train at a higher level than they might have in the past."

The series kicks off on February 17 at the MCG before heading to nearby Kardinia Park in Geelong – fittingly, Finch's old stomping ground – two days later, and rounding out in Adelaide on February 22.

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"It's my local club, I've played there for the better part of 15 or 16 years now," Finch added.

"The people in Geelong and the surrounding districts come out for any kind of sport, (and) top-level sport they just love.

"It's a huge boost for the community to be able to see international cricket in their home town."

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Australia Men

Sri Lanka Men

Aaron Finch

Steve Smith

Matthew Wade

David Warner

KFC T20 INTLs v Sri Lanka