Rivals mass for run at Aussie Cup opening roles
AARON Finch wants the aspiring openers in Australia's limited-overs squad to assume nothing, declaring that he and David Warner are no certainties to open at this year's World Cup.
The impending return of suspended superstars Warner and Steve Smith have resulted in much uncertainty about Australia's likely batting order for the 50-over tournament that is being hosted in England.
Finch and Warner, having opened together during Australia's march to the 2015 World Cup title, were fully expected to reunite at the top of the order.
But the captain, speaking as his side prepared to start their series in India that is a key tune-up for this year's World Cup, has made it clear that is no fait accompli.
"Whatever we feel is the right combination at the time. I don't think anything is out of question," Finch said.
"There's things you can juggle around in one-day cricket. I've batted in the middle order a little bit over the last little while, Davey has done it.
"It's a huge opportunity for guys to step up and almost cement their place, for the next little while."
Finch also pointed to the fact that Warner and Smith, whose bans expire next month, are both recovering from elbow surgery.
"That should be in the back of your mind as well, that if things don't go 100 per cent right with their rehab or they have some complications with it and they're not back in time (for the World Cup)," he said.
Warner's year-long ban has left an undeniable void at the top of Australia's order in all formats; Alex Carey, Chris Lynn, Travis Head and D'Arcy Short have all been trialled as Finch's partner.
Carey and Short headline the contenders to open alongside Finch in Vizag, where Australia's tour of India starts with a T20 that begins at 12.30am (EDT) on Monday morning, while Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis also have strong claims.
Carey and Khawaja shape as Finch's most likely opening partners during the ensuing ODI series in India, which will double as a selection showdown as Australia move closer to finalising their 15-man World Cup squad.
Former opener Matthew Hayden, who is in India for commentary duties, was on deck at Saturday's training session to pass on some pointers to Carey and other batsmen in the squad.
"It was great to have JL's (Justin Langer's) great mate and a legend of the game, and somebody who has had so much success in India, come back and get around to a few of the boys," Finch said.
AUSTRALIA'S ODI OPENING PARTNERSHIPS DURING WARNER'S SUSPENSION:
*Aaron Finch & Alex Carey (8, 8, 20)
*Finch & Chris Lynn (1)
*Finch & Travis Head (12, 4, 60, 101, 7)
*Head & D'Arcy Short (27, 24).