Australia has experimented with its batting order for the first T20 against the West Indies, with captain Aaron Finch sliding down to No. 4 for the series opener on the Gold Coast.
Despite not featuring in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad, young all-rounder Cameron Green has retained his spot at the top of the order, partnering with veteran opener David Warner.
Finch, who has struggled with the bat this summer, will take on an unfamiliar role in the middle order, a decision that baffled former Australian cricketer Mark Waugh.
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The Victorian only has five matches left to rediscover some momentum before the T20 World Cup gets underway later this month, and moving the 35-year-old down the order understandably raised some eyebrows.
Finch, who later confirmed it was his call, has batted 244 times in international cricket across formats, opening the batting on 233 occasions.
“That won’t be the batting order, surely,” Waugh told Fox Cricket.
“Cameron Green is not in the squad for the World Cup, so it seems strange that he would open.
“If you’re preparing for the World Cup, why would you open with him?
“Wouldn’t Aaron Finch be opening the batting to prepare for the World Cup?
“I find it a little confusing … who knows what’s happening there.”
Former Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin continued: “I find the decision odd, to be honest.
“They’re obviously thinking about this game only … it makes no sense otherwise.”
Meanwhile, Steve Smith was omitted from the starting XI entirely, with T20 globetrotter Tim David seemingly edging the former Australian captain out of the side.
Green was not renowned as a T20 specialist before Australia’s recent white-ball tour of India, but the West Australian smacked two explosive half-centuries to finish as the highest run-scorer of the three-match series.
It prompted calls for the 23-year-old to be rushed into the Australian T20 World Cup squad, but Finch confirmed that Green would only get a chance in the tournament through injury.
Four players in the Australian squad are currently nursing injuries — incumbent all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is missing the West Indies bilateral series with a minor side strain, while West Australian teammate Mitchell Marsh is not permitted to bowl as he recovers from an ankle complaint.
The West Indies mustered 9/145 from their 20 overs after Finch won the toss and elected to bowl first on the Gold Coast.
Opening batter Kyle Mayers top-scored for the two-time T20 World Cup champions with 39 (36), while Jamaican all-rounder Odean Smith contributed a crucial 27 (17) at the death.
New South Wales paceman Josh Hazlewood was the pick of the Australian bowlers, finishing with figures of 3/35 from four overs.
David Warner, Cameron Green, Mitch Marsh, Aaron Finch (c), Glenn Maxwell, Tim David, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
West Indies XI
Brandon King, Johnson Charles, Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran (c/wk), Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, Odean Smith, Raymon Reifer, Yannic Cariah, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottre