Batter up or down? Paine unfussed where Finch features for Victoria
Australian Test skipper Tim Paine says he is "not fussed" where Aaron Finch bats for Victoria in next week's final Sheffield Shield clash before the Test series against India begins.
Finch will have his only red-ball hitout of the summer to date against Queensland at the Gabba from Tuesday, having led the one-day international and Twenty20 sides.
While he opens the batting for Australia, Victoria has maintained he will be used in his customary role of recent seasons either in the top or middle order.
Marcus Harris, having enjoyed a call-up into Australia's 14-man Test squad, is set to have regular partner Travis Dean at the top of the order, after veteran batsman Cameron White was rested.
While it could make sense for Finch to reacquaint himself with the new red ball, Cricket Australia, under a new high-performance chief, has said it will not intervene in Victoria's selection process.
Paine said it was up to Victoria to make the call.
"I think if Finchy plays for us in the Test series, I dare say it's going to be at the top of the order, so you would like to think they [Victoria] would help him prepare as best as they possibly could," he said on Friday.
"But, at the same time, they have got a Shield game to win and they are going to pick the best side and the best line-up they think can win that game. It's completely up to them."
Peter Handscomb, the Victorian skipper, defended the decision to leave Finch in the middle order just a week away from facing an Indian pace attack regarded as the best the tourists have brought to Australia.
"I think if you look at his stats for Victoria in the last three, four years where he has been batting, he has been batting at five and six averaging 50," Handscomb said on SEN.
"I think it is hard to take a person away from that spot when he is scoring so many runs and performing so well. Considering Marcus Harris is opening the batting, and we also have Travis Dean, who is an amazing opener.
"It's hard to move those guys from those positions and Finchy being so strong at five or six, really gives us a great opportunity to have this massive batting depth.”
Finch has improved his footwork over the past year, and now gets to the pitch of the ball more, reflected in his strong form in white-ball cricket and 181 runs at 45.25 in two Tests against Pakistan last month.
Glenn Maxwell will also return to the Victorian side after completing short-form duties with the national side.
Victoria selection chairman Andrew Lynch said his top-of-the-table side was "looking to build on their strong start to the Shield season".
"The experience of those two [Finch and Maxwell] will mix nicely with our youth, particularly Seb Gotch and Matt Short who really stood up against Tasmania and combined for that impressive 131-run match winning partnership – another great sign for Victorian cricket amongst the inclusion of Marcus Harris, Peter Handscomb, Chris Tremain, Peter Siddle and Finch in the Test squad announcement.
"We're absolutely rapt for those five and know they're ready for whatever opportunities come their way this summer."
Victorian squad v Queensland: Scott Boland, Travis Dean, Andrew Fekete, Aaron Finch, Seb Gotch, Peter Handscomb (C), Marcus Harris, Jon Holland, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Matt Short, Chris Tremain.
Jon Pierik is a sports writer with The Age, focusing primarily on AFL football, cricket and basketball. He has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.