Aaron Finch will captain Australia in the KFC Twenty20 International (T20I) Series against Sri Lanka in February.
Finch, 30, will take charge of three matches at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (17 February), Kardinia Park in Geelong (19 February) and the Adelaide Oval (22 February) after his appointment was recommended by Cricket Australia’s (CA) National Selection Panel (NSP) and endorsed by CA’s Board of Directors.
The Melbourne Renegades captain has previously led Australia in six Twenty20 Internationals and was also in charge in Monday’s One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand in Auckland following an injury to Matthew Wade.
The squad for the three-match KFC T20I series will be announced on Wednesday at 10am Melbourne time.
With usual captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Wade absent for the KFC T20I Series, preparing for a four-match Test series against India, Finch will get the chance to be in charge once more and, commenting on his appointment, he said: “It’s very exciting to be back and leading the side in Steve’s absence.
“It’s been a rollercoaster from being captain leading up to the ICC World Twenty20 (in 2016), being injured and then Steve taking over the reins for that tournament but it’s something that, any time you get the chance to captain your country in any format, you’re very chuffed about.
“We’ll be missing some big names, some of the biggest in world cricket, but you can’t dwell on that and it will be a fantastic opportunity for guys who’ve performed well in the KFC Big Bash League (KFC BBL) to push their case for further inclusion, and inclusion in the other formats too.
“There are some extraordinary players around the country that will now get an opportunity and I think that’s only a good thing for Australian cricket.”
Interim National Selector Trevor Hohns said: “In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner amongst others, we believe Aaron is the logical choice to lead the side. He’s done it before and he has a great deal of experience in the format as both a captain and a batsman.
“When the squad is selected for this series we, as selectors, will obviously have one eye on the present and also one eye on the future, with the next ICC World Twenty20 scheduled to take place in Australia.
“The KFC Big Bash League has given us the opportunity to see plenty of exciting talent and it means we will have plenty to consider when we chose the players to join Aaron in the squad.
“Twenty20 International cricket is a format we certainly need to improve in and so these three matches will be a good chance to move forward in this form of the game.”
Finch’s appointment means he will have the opportunity to work with the triumvirate of acting head coach Justin Langer and assistant coaches Ricky Ponting and Jason Gillespie, who will assume those roles in the absence of Bupa Support Staff Head Coach Darren Lehmann and his assistants Graeme Hick, David Saker and Greg Blewett, who will be in India.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with all three of them in the past, they all know a lot about the game and they’re highly respected,” said Finch.
“They demand excellence from a group and it raises the bar. With guys playing and training in front of three greats of the game it makes them hungry to succeed and work at a higher level than they might have in the past.”
Sri Lanka will arrive in Australia off the back of a 2-1 T20I series victory against South Africa although it lost both T20Is against Australia at home in September.
Finch missed those matches, sidelined with a finger injury sustained during the ODI series that preceded it, but he said that gave him a good idea of what he and his squad can expect in February.
“It was a different experience to sit and watch games and be able to take everything in rather than be wrapped up in the game as a player. It gave me the opportunity to assess their players and we will have some really clear plans going into the series.
“Sri Lanka have played some very good cricket and they’re a very talented side. They’ve got guys who give it a whack, they’ve got guys who execute well with the ball and their spin speaks for itself.”
The second match of the series will be the first international to be staged in Geelong and for Finch that will be an especially happy occasion.
“It’s my local club, I’ve played there for the best part of 15 or 16 years now and it’s just an amazing place,” he said.
“The people of Geelong and the surrounding districts come out for any kind of top-level sport, they love it. It’s a huge boost for the community to see international cricket in the area and they will pack out the stadium, I’m sure.”