Lehmann backs Finch's Test selection for Pakistan series

Darren Lehmann, the former Australian coach, believes that limited-overs specialist Aaron Finch could be in with a chance to be picked for the upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan in the UAE, starting in October.

Finch has played 75 first class games and has amassed 4263 runs at a slightly below par average of 36.12. However, Lehmann noted that the 31-year-old has the game to perform in spin-friendly climes of Asia. He also added that Finch was close to Test selection when he was the coach of the national set-up.

“He can play Test cricket, there’s no doubt about that,” Lehmann told the Geelong Advertiser. “He’s confident in the way he plays spin bowling, he can take an attack on, and leading into this Pakistan series he’s a really good chance to be selected for that one. He was always knocking on the door, but he just hadn’t made runs consistently,” he added.

Lehmann, on his part, also indicated that with the ball not expected to move appreciably in UAE, the think tank can look at Finch as an opener. Australia would miss the services of Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft after all three of them were banned over their involvement in the ball tampering incident. It has left gaping holes in the batting line-up.

“For example, if you’re playing in the subcontinent where the wickets don’t seam that much, I’d open with him. But if you’re playing in Australia, I’d bat him down the list. That’s the challenge Justin (Langer) and the selection panel have. But they’ve got to pick him first and work out where he bats,” he said.

On a positive note, Finch has been in good nick in the Sheffield Shield over the last three seasons, evidenced by the 1278 runs he has collected at 41.22 in 19 matches for Victoria during that period.

“His last couple of Shield years have been pretty good. If you take a look at his numbers, they’re right up there. He probably could’ve made a few more hundreds and pushed his case even further but he’s one player we talked about quite a lot. He’s close, and when I was coach, he was close. He’s probably closer now,” he said.

Despite accumulating 4957 runs in international cricket, Finch hasn’t played a single Test match for his country. Last month, Finch had observed that he should have pushed himself for Test selection much harder when he was younger.

“I’ve got myself to blame for that (not playing Tests). When I was younger I had an opportunity to really push my case for a few years. I had probably 18 to 24 months of really lean four-day or any red-ball cricket to be honest. I was playing good white-ball cricket for Australia and couldn’t get the runs on the board in red-ball cricket,” Finch noted.

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