Asked about the possible perils of batting with David Warner, apart from prompt evasive actions when the latter fetters the ball straight, his partner Aaron Finch, stroking his chin, replied matter-of-factly, “The day you start trying to compete with Davie is the day that your career goes downhill pretty quick.”
He couldn’t have put it better, for it is easy to hold yourself when your partner is rampaging. And emulating him is fraught with hazard. But he also implied that he is not just Warner’s accomplice, not a caddie with a celebrity golfer. Not that he craves for flashbulbs as Warner, but in his own ways has made a mark in T20Is, though his efforts tend to sneak beneath the radar. Even Finch himself has to be reminded that he is the No 1 batsman in T20Is. “Ah, it’s obviously a flattering statistic. I’m not totally sure how the rankings work. I think I got 39 in my last innings and jumped two spots. But it’s a nice accolade.”
However, a casual scan through his numbers would confirm that his ranking isn’t a mere accident — 567 runs at 43.61 with a strike rate of 160.16. The latter figure is particularly morale-sapping for a bowler.
In England last summer, he plastered 156 off 63 balls, a T20I world record. Remarkably, he could have scored more as he was out with nearly three overs left in the innings. Even more stunningly, there wasn’t a single unorthodox short so as to brand him a mindless belter of the ball.
More vindication of his talent came in his 54-ball 65 against Pakistan. Had Finch not departed, the outcome of the match could have been different, despite him not bringing out his natural game.
But even then, he gave the impression that he wanted to sequester to his own world and let his peers soak in his glory, content with what he has. Much like Chris Gayle’s companion Dwayne Smith, who on Tuesday exemplified that he is a destructive batsman in his own ways. Preserving a scratchy Gayle to the death overs might have been a gamble or a gameplan, but seldom has the Jamaican resembled a spectator. In the 97-run partnership, Smith netted 72 runs, add to that six extras, and Gayle’s contribution was a mere 19.
Moreover, he is not bothered whether Gayle’s passivity was a definite design or sheer incidence. Apart from the qualitative values they render their teams with, they afford their partners an extra cushion.
There is less pressure on Gayle, who knows he needn’t go berserk straightaway. So does Warner, who needn’t go full-throttle from the onset. For his partner is as much capable of spurting the run-rate along. This awareness, and the ensuing freedom, can make both Warner and Gayle all the more lethal.