Abu Dhabi, Oct 23 (IANS) Ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup opener against South Africa later on Saturday, Australian captain Aaron Finch has said he will back embattled opener David Warner to the hilt as the 34-year-old is “just bloody good” and one of the greatest players that Australia has produced.
Australia, despite their cricketing pedigree, have been the underachievers in the ICC T20 World Cups, not having won a single title since the inaugural edition in 2007. South Africa, too, have never won the title despite having the likes of AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Faf du Plessis in the past.
Shorn of big names, the Proteas enter the tournament without the regular hype that follows them going into ICC events despite the likes of Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and company.
Finch, who himself is returning after a knee surgery, said that he had no doubt in his mind that come Game 1, Warner will flourish.
“I’m backing Dave’s (Warner) ability. I’m backing his judgment. I think, if you look at his World Cup history, he’s just bloody good. Would he have liked more runs? Absolutely. Everyone would like more runs all the time. He’s one of the greatest players that Australia has ever produced, and I’ve got no doubts that come Game 1 he’ll be up and firing and ready to go,” said Finch.
Giving an update on his fitness — Finch picked up a knee injury during the West Indies tour earlier this year and had to undergo surgery –, the Aussie skipper said, “I’m feeling really good. The knee is feeling great. It’s feeling a bit better than what I thought it would at this stage, to be honest. To be able to play those first two warmup games against New Zealand and India was crucial, I think. To get a few in the middle was nice.
“I think everyone’s in a pretty good space to be honest. The way the group’s come together, the feeling around the place has been brilliant. We’re really excited to kick it off (against South Africa),” he added.
With the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Warner and Mitchell Starc on one side, and Tabraiz Shamsi, Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock on the other, the ICC T20 World Cup couldn’t have expected a more exciting opener.
This is a match that sees two of the tournament’s most fearsome fast bowling units, best-equipped spin arsenals, and powerful batting orders face off. It is also a match featuring two sides with very different form-lines and contrasting levels of outward expectation.
While South Africa have lost quite a few stalwarts over the years, Australia have seen their stocks rise notably since confirming a squad that includes the likes of Maxwell, Finch, Warner, Starc, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins.
The Proteas are currently on a run of seven straight T20I wins on top of taking out both their warm-up matches. Only Bangladesh have won as many T20Is this year as South Africa — 11 — in men’s cricket. On the other hand, Australia have won just four of their 15 T20Is this year, suffering series losses in New Zealand, West Indies and Bangladesh.
Despite that, it’s hard to look at their squad and not be impressed.
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said ahead of the opener, “I am confident. The squad that we have here, it is a squad that we’ve been playing together for quite a while for the last couple of months. It’s a squad that we built. We tried to cover all our bases, in terms of fast bowling, in terms of spin, as well as the batters.”
Australia possible XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mathew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins/Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa.
South Africa possible XI: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje/Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.