Australia may have fallen short in the Ashes but they found a star in the shortest form of the game on Thursday night as an extraordinary display of hitting by Aaron Finch gave them a record-filled victory in a run-packed first Twenty20 international.
Aaron who? Well, Finch may not be a familiar name in England but he has carved out a mighty reputation in Twenty20 leagues for muscular hitting that was spectacularly demonstrated at the Ageas Bowl.
The 26-year-old smashed an incredible 156 from 63 balls with 14 sixes and 11 fours, the highest score in any T20 international. His century took one ball more than the fastest ever ton, hit by South Africa’s Richard Levi off 45 balls.
England replied with some superb hitting of their own in the perfect example of what a short-form game should be, but Joe Root’s unbeaten 90 off 49 balls in his first international Twenty20 innings was only ever going to be the consolation in a losing cause.
Finch enabled Australia to amass an imposing 248 for six and Australia would have surpassed the highest T20 international score of 260 had Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn not struck three late blows to restrict the scoring.
Just the sort of opener, you would think, who could have boosted Australia’s Ashes hopes until you see that Finch averages fewer than 30 in first-class cricket.
England captain Stuart Broad said: ‘The batsmen want to pitch a tent up and stay here but the bowlers have got their passports in their pockets and are ready for Durham. That was special striking from Finch. To hit 14 sixes was a fantastic effort and we tried pretty much everything against him. He made it his day.’
No bowler could contain Finch, with only the maligned Dernbach keeping his economy rate in single figures while taking three wickets.
Finch relied almost exclusively on brute force, once hitting Dernbach for a remarkable six over point while virtually falling over playing the shot. Otherwise he prospered with clean, orthodox, highly productive hitting. (DailyMail)