Sports

Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch moments of truth


A maiden men’s T20 World Cup title won’t be the only thing on the line in Dubai on Monday (1am AEDT) when Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell will face their personal moments of truth.

Rightly or wrongly, one World Cup final has the ability to live longer in the memory than years of service.

Both Finch and Maxwell will likely go down as white ball greats for Australia, but it’s what happens next against New Zealand that has the ability to define their whole international careers.

Australia take on New Zealand in the ICC T20 World Cup Final on Monday (1am AEDT) on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today.

T20 LIVE: Earthquake hits Dubai before final; Aussies’ hidden ‘12th man’ can ‘freeze’ Kiwis

Wade plays the hero after Ali’s drop | 01:05

READ MORE

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Healing scars reveal major threat to Aussie hope of ending 14-year agony

DUBAI DELIRIUM: Aussies into World Cup final after ‘breathtaking’ three-ball massacre

RECAP: England rocked in epic 20-minute T20 World Cup meltdown as Kiwis claim redemption

Most international cricketers won’t know what it’s like to feature in a World Cup final, or consider themselves lucky to feature in just one.

For Maxwell and Finch, this is the second trip to an ICC World Cup final after Australia won the 50-over version in 2015.

There are no guarantees for a third.

Another T20 World Cup will be held in Australia next year and both Finch and Maxwell are likely to feature.

But T20 cricket is fickle. Even clear-cut favourites face a perilous route to the final, as England and Pakistan found out this year.

Both Finch and Maxwell will take victory over all else, but Monday’s final also brings an opportunity to leave everlasting marks in the history of Australian cricket.

Australia has never won the men’s T20 World Cup since its inception in 2007; a curious blemish on a cricketing powerhouse that India, England and Pakistan don’t have.

Finch and Maxwell could be central figures to changing that.

Of course, there are nine other Australian players who will take to Dubai International Stadium, and all will play a role. But only for Finch and Maxwell does it feel like more is personally on the line.

It’s all on the line for Glenn Maxwell.
It’s all on the line for Glenn Maxwell.Source: Getty Images

Six of Australia’s expected XI are also Test stars who, in 2019, were heavily involved in retaining the Ashes urn on English soil for the first time since 2001.

In just over two months’ time, David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood could retain it again for Australia.

The priorities of the Australian public deem those Ashes successes will outweigh anything they do on Monday.

Matthew Wade is also in contention to play an Ashes role as he did in 2019 but, even if he doesn’t, there will always be his three-consecutive sixes to finish off Pakistan in a semi final epic on Friday.

The other three players are expected to be Mitch Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa.

Zampa could well be the player of the tournament, should Australia win on Monday. To this point, he’s taken at least a wicket in every game and has 12 scalps for the tournament at 10.91. Only Ashton Agar — who has bowled just 2.4 overs — has a better economy rate for Australia than Zampa’s 5.69.

Failing to deliver in the final would be a disappointing knock on Zampa’s record, but no one could say he hasn’t done enough in the tournament as a whole.

Similar could be said of Marcus Stoinis whose unbeaten 40 against Pakistan is easily overlooked given Wade’s show-stealing finish.

In fact, Australia wouldn’t have even made it out of its Super 12 group had Stoinis not delivered in a tense win against South Africa with two balls remaining.

This shaped as a potentially career-defining tournament for Marsh, too, until a mid-tournament axing somewhat tapered expectations.

Even so, Marsh has averaged 48.50 and struck at 164.40 since he was reinstated, while Australia hasn’t lost a match he’s played in all tournament.

Which brings us back to Finch and Maxwell; both white ball specialists, senior players aged 34 and 33, who have had middling-to-poor tournaments when more was expected.

Finch is averaging 21.66 with a strike rate of 119.26. Most notably, he was out for a golden duck in the semi final against Pakistan which made the mountain Australia had to climb that much steeper.

The golden duck means Finch is now without a run in each of his past three knockout matches, having made a duck in the 2015 World Cup final, and a golden duck in the 2019 World Cup semi final.

Another poor score in a knockout match and Finch surely earns himself a negative reputation for his performances in big games, if he hasn’t already.

Aaron Finch failed to score in a knockout game again on Friday.Source: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Maxwell’s high-risk game hasn’t delivered Australia high reward — he’s averaging just 9.00 with a lowly strike rate of 78.26.

His failed reverse sweep to be out for seven against Pakistan pushed Australia to the brink of elimination at 5-96, leaving 81 runs required from 46 balls.

Maxwell didn’t ask to be nicknamed ‘The Big Show’ but when that brand is attached to you, there’s a greater expectation to deliver.

In the 2015 final against New Zealand, Maxwell didn’t bat, while he made 22 off 23 balls in the 2019 semi final against England.

Needless to say, there’s been nothing ‘big’ about those performances with the bat. Maxwell’s efforts with the ball are also important, but unlikely to define his legacy.

At least there’s another chance.

THE RIVAL

Standing in the way is a familiar foe in New Zealand, which is seeking its first World Cup win of any format.

Fresh in the Kiwis’ memory is the pain of consecutive 50-over final losses in 2015 and 2019, with the former coming against Australia.

Four of New Zealand’s expected XI — Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult — were there that day at the MCG when Australia’s quicks blew their trans-Tasman rival out of the water.

But the New Zealand of 2015 isn’t the New Zealand of 2021.

NZ’s EPIC comeback win! | 02:58

The most recent finals in all three formats of the game have all featured New Zealand, which is currently the World Test Champion.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s only loss of the this year’s World Cup came in its tournament-opener against Pakistan. Since then, the Black Caps have beaten India, Scotland, Namibia, Afghanistan and England in consecutive games.

The Black Caps, like Australia, have a well-rounded side with new opener Daryl Mitchell, his partner Guptill, captain Williamson, James Neesham and Devon Conway all averaging 30 runs or more.

Only Williamson is striking below 100.00, while Guptill is hitting at 131.38, Mitchell at 140.71 and Neesham a whopping 173.80.

With the ball, quicks Tim Southee and Trent Boult share 19 wickets at 15.42 with tidy economy rates, while spinner Ish Sodhi has nine at 17.11, albeit with a more expensive, yet respectable, 7.33 runs per over.

NZ smash their way to WC Final! | 01:51

There are, however, concerns of a complex when playing Australia on the big stage.

Evidence of that was the 2015 final when New Zealand failed to make 200 and Australia won with a whopping 101 balls remaining.

Arguably the most meaningful showdown between the nations since was the three-Test series of 2019-20, in which the Kiwis were crushed by more than 200 runs in every match.

Australia and New Zealand also squared off at the 2016 and 2019 World Cups, with the Black Caps winning the former, and the Aussies the more recent showdown by 86 runs.

New Zealand will be without Conway on Monday after he broke his hand while punching his bat in frustration during Thursday’s semi final win over England.

Conway — averaging 32.25 this tournament — is set to be replaced by Tim Seifert.

Australia has no known injury concerns and is expected to take a unchanged line-up into the final.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *