Sri Lanka is in the throes of political unrest but Aussie white-ball captain Aaron Finch says it’s business as usual for the Australian cricket team, which has arrived in the divided island nation ahead of its five-week multi-format tour.
Finch said the Aussies would stick to their guns when it came to choosing a bowling line-up for the T20 leg of the tour, likely going into the first match on June 7 with three specialist quicks and one specialist spinner – Ashton Agar.
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Sri Lanka is in the midst of an economic crisis and public demonstrations have led police to clash with protesters calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
With Sri Lanka’s political climate still turbulent, the Aussies arrived in the capital Colombo on Thursday morning (AEST) and will complete three days of loose isolation before the first T20I.
But despite the political turmoil, the tourists won’t be subject to intense security detail or strict Covid-19 protocols like they were in Pakistan earlier this year.
In fact, Finch said the conditions were similar to those on any other subcontinent tour.
“Cricket Australia has been really transparent about their communications with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” he said.
“We’ve got some opportunities to be able to get out and about after our isolation.
“Then it’s just about making sure that anytime we do go out and about, we give security enough notice just so they can be across everything and make sure that where we’re going is safe.
“We’re able to dine outside at some prearranged restaurants and stuff like that. We’re starting to get back to a little bit more normality than what it’s been like for the last couple of years.”
Finch said Cricket Australia was working with the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka to determine whether the Aussies could engage in any philanthropic initiatives during their time on tour.
“Over the last couple of years, we haven’t been able to get out and do appearances with local people wherever we’ve travelled,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get back to that as soon as we can and we can have a really positive impact here.”
Finch said his side would stick to its winning formula by taking one specialist spinner and three specialist quicks into the first T20 in Colombo.
By only using four specialist bowlers and relying on all-rounders to shoulder some of the load with the ball, the Aussies have been able to bat deeper.
Australia has won every T20I when it has lined up this way, dating back to the beginning of its triumphant World Cup campaign last year.
“We feel as though that’s a really well-balanced side for T20 cricket because we’ve still got seven genuine batters,” Finch explained.
“(All-rounder Glenn) Maxwell is as good as a frontline spinner, (all-rounders) Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis, their bowling is very underrated in T20 cricket as well.”
But with one eye on the upcoming T20 World Cup, the Aussies could opt to experiment with the structure of their 11 later in the tour.
“I think it’s about making sure that we still feel as though (our current line-up) is the right way to go into a World Cup in Australia,” he said.
“We’re pretty confident that it is.”
Adam Zampa stayed behind for the tour of Sri Lanka to attend the birth of his first child, meaning Ashton Agar will become Australia’s first-choice tweaker.
“He’s proved over the last couple of years that he’s one of the best in the world in the T20 format,” Finch said of Agar.
“He’ll certainly get a lot of opportunities on this tour to play that frontline spinner role in both white-ball formats of the game.”
Pat Cummins is also missing the T20 series to rest up before the ODIs and Test matches so pacemen Sean Abbott, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson will likely also be given more time in the side than usual.