Having broken the ice over beers in Dubai, Aaron Finch believes Australia can ensure Steve Smith and David Warner’s return doesn’t become a distraction at the World Cup.
A “nervous” Smith and Warner spent less than 24 hours with Australia’s 15-man ODI squad in the UAE last weekend but the short stopover was enough to generate hundreds of headlines around the world.
The intrigue and scrutiny will continue to build as Australia’s World Cup opener on June 1 draws closer, with Shane Warne recently tipping English crowds will “absolutely give it to” the disgraced duo during the 50-over tournament.
Warne also knows as well as anybody how hard the English tabloids will go at the batsmen, who have one more week to serve of the year-long bans they copped following the Cape Town cheating scandal.
“The reality is there’s going to be a lot written and said about their returns. We’d be very naive if we didn’t expect that,” Finch said.
“You just have to go about your own business and make sure you don’t let that become a distraction.
“They’re not the ones writing articles or pushing their own barrow.
“It’s important to remember it is going to be what other people’s opinions are and that’s not always reality.”
Another key factor in Australia’s World Cup defence will be how Finch, appointed ODI and Twenty20 captain in the wreckage of the sandpaper scandal, and two of his predecessors work together.
Finch declared he’d be “silly” not to seek the tactical wisdom of Smith, who Cricket Australia (CA) has barred from holding a leadership position for a further year, and Warner, who has been branded ‘never to lead again’ by CA.
“They’re such great resources to have as a captain,” Finch said.
It’s important you lean on them when you need to.
“But them going about their own business, preparing and getting their mind right to play is the most important thing for the side.”
Finch, who remained in touch with Smith and Warner during their exile, is playing a key role in the reintegration process.
That was the case during last Saturday’s formal meetings but also the more casual catch-up that unfolded on Friday night.
“It was good to get them in and for the boys to just go to the bar and have a beer with them the night before, to sort of break the ice,” Finch said.
“They were probably as nervous as anyone.
“They came in with almost bright eyes. It’s a totally different setup to when they left it.
“What’s important is they’re really keen to slot back into how this current side works … their respect for the group and everything was fantastic.”