Waugh: Slater clone can reignite Australia
FORMER Test selector Mark Waugh believes Aaron Finch can be the powder keg at the top of the order Michael Slater was for Australia two decades ago.
Slater's debonair stroke play was an energising force for Australia when he burst onto the scene in the 1993 Ashes tour after a dour 1980s characterised by hard toil.
The aggressiveness of Slater was a key factor in helping Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath establish themselves on the back of the spring-loaded starts given to them by Australia's stroke-playing opener.
Many of Australia's current generation of stars and possibly even 31-year-old Finch himself, rank Slater as one of their biggest influences.
Mark Waugh witnessed the power of Slater first-hand and from the crisis born out of David Warner's suspension, he believes Finch could become Australia's new poster-boy action hero.
Rather than put life into a rather unglamorous era like Slater did, Finch's mandate is to fill the shoes of Warner, one of the most destructive openers in Test history.
"He's the sort of player who could crack the game open at the top, a bit like Michael Slater," Waugh said.
"I think that's his natural game. He's an attacking batsman. Technically he's tightened up his game up a bit in the past 12 months or so.
"He's batting with a lot of confidence. That's been at white ball level but he's shown he can transform to red ball as well.
"After all, it's a cricket ball, so if you're playing well in one format it can transfer across.
"I think his natural game is he could really get the team off to a bit of a flyer.
"But he's got to find the right balance between attacking and in Test cricket, giving the new ball some respect - looking at the conditions and seeing it swing.
"I see his attacking game in a Michael Slater mould."
Mike Hussey has been among those to speculate that Australia could consider transferring Finch into the middle-order for the home summer.
Finch's first-class career for Victoria has evolved to him batting in the middle after struggling to handle the swinging new ball.
However, coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine have strongly indicated that Australia see something special in the chemistry of Finch and Usman Khawaja at the top of the order.
Khawaja back to No. 3 will be another consideration.
But Australia wants to use a solid opening partnership to provide the bedrock for the team.
Finch says he feels a minor change to his technique of trying to focus on playing with a straighter bat helped him instantly adapt in his debut Test where he made a half century and a 49.
"It's probably something I've looked to change over the last two years," Finch said.
"I tended to lock off a little bit and play around my front pad. So it's just been a really conscious effort to keep my weight going forward down the wicket, full face, bat slightly in front of pad. Which is a small technical change but it's helped my game a lot.
"It's given me a little bit more comfort playing on the front foot, just staying over the ball and being a little bit more smooth in my defence and my attack. It's something that I have worked very hard on with (batting coach) Graeme Hick. It was nice that it started off well in the first Test."
Second and deciding Test Pakistan v Australia. Tuesday (5pm AEDT) on Fox Cricket from Abu Dhabi
Australia likely: Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Marnus Labuschagne, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Jon Holland
Pakistan 12-man squad: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Mohammad Abbas, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Yasir Shah
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