Aaron Finch believes Australia will reap long-term rewards from this year’s miserable Twenty20 tours of Bangladesh and the West Indies regardless of what transpires in coming days.
Australia, who face Pakistan in their semi-final at 1am AEDT on Friday, are two victories away from winning the men’s T20 World Cup for the first time.
Such an achievement would be remarkable in the context of it being the seventh edition of the tournament but also given what has transpired over the past 20 months.
Finch’s side occupied top spot on the T20 rankings last year, looming as one of the teams to beat at the T20 World Cup that Australia were slated to host prior to the Test series against India.
However, COVID-19 intervened and Finch and Cricket Australia’s plans were scorched for the tournament that will now take place in the summer of 2022-23.
Finch captained an understrength Australia to a T20 series loss in New Zealand at the start of this year when members of the Test squad were absent because of a tour to South Africa that ultimately never transpired.
Australia then arranged limited-overs tours of Bangladesh and the West Indies, booking in 10 T20s that would serve as ideal practice for the World Cup.
They lost eight of those contests, many of which were lopsided.
Rested superstars Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Pat Cummins were all sorely missed, while Finch returned home mid-tour to undergo knee surgery.
“One thing I’m really proud of is how we’ve started to uncover a little bit more depth in T20 cricket in Australia,” Finch said.
“That’s probably come on the back of that tour to New Zealand.
“Some guys who mightn’t have got an opportunity in the past if everyone was available, they got a good opportunity to test themselves in international cricket.
“That holds us in good stead down the track. Then we go to the West Indies and Bangladesh … gave a little bit more opportunity to some guys.
“Over the next two or three years, this period of Australian cricket will help us uncover more talent and more depth. Especially in the white ball-format.”
Finch added Australia had learnt a lot out of those T20 series defeats.
“It has been a really important part of the growth of not just this team, but the depth of T20 cricket in Australia,” he said.
This T20 World Cup should also contain plenty of lessons for next year’s tournament, regardless of whether Australia are defending champions or not.
One unresolved question about that campaign is whether Justin Langer will remain coach of the T20 team.
There is a push from some at CA for different coaches to perform the pressure-laden job in different formats.
“It probably depends on what the head coach wants at the end of the day,” Finch said.
“As it stands at the moment, I think it’s going OK.
“There might be some questions once those tours start to become really condensed and back up with each other.”