Australia’s captain Aaron Finch dismissed suggestions that he would need to keep a lid on his team as they square off against South Africa at Old Trafford on Saturday. DANIEL GALLAN reports.
Much of the talk has centred around the ‘sandpapergate’ scandal of last year. David Warner and Steve Smith played a central role that day in Cape Town and were subsequently banned from the game for 12 months.
Today, they form part of a formidable Australian top order alongside Finch who stressed that his two star teammates were eager to leave the past behind them.
‘I think everyone has moved on,’ Finch said. ‘There will be no restraint needed. The spirit in which the World Cup has been played has been unbelievable. The sportsmanship, the camaraderie among the teams has been outstanding.’
Finch said that the rivalry between Australia and South Africa was something to savour. He said that there was no need for extra needle as the two proud nations always seem to elevate their game when facing each other.
‘I think Australians and South Africans are quite similar in a lot of ways,’ he said. ‘They are very competitive people who are passionate about the game and try their best to win games for their country. There’s been a lot of historic matches so I think that’s where it all stems from. But there will be no need for restraint.’
Instead, Finch will let his players do the talking with bat and ball. Alongside Warner he has formed the most destructive opening partnership in the tournament and in Mitchell Starc he has the most prolific bowler who has picked up 24 wickets at a staggering 15 runs apiece.
It is remarkable that Australia have managed to claw themselves back from the brink less than two years ago and are now primed as one of the tournament favourites.
‘We’ve always prided ourselves on playing really good cricket at the right time,’ Finch said, remarking on how a World Cup triumph would be the nation’s sixth.
‘You can’t switch off your intensity. The game is too hard. If you let an opposition into the game or you let them on top, good opponents don’t let you back in. So you can’t afford to have that concentration lapse.’
If South Africa expected an easy end to their tournament, they were very much mistaken.
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