Cricket gods hilariously punish Victoria
THAT'S what you get for tempting fate. Victoria's decision to stick with regular openers Travis Dean and Marcus Harris blew up in its face on Tuesday in the Sheffield Shield.
Despite pleas from the Australian cricket fraternity - including favourite sons Shane Warne and Damien Fleming - to promote Aaron Finch to the top of the order, the Vics stood their ground.
But Finch, who is expected to partner Harris as Australia's one and two in the upcoming Test series against India this summer, was at the crease before the end of the first over as Dean was bowled by Queensland quick Michael Neser for a duck. Dean shouldered arms to a ball that nipped back off a good length and was castled.
It only got worse for the visitors in Brisbane as Harris followed soon after when he was removed by Luke Feldman for two to leave the Vics 2/6.
The early dismissals had some questioning the suitability of the pitch.
"Gotta love a day one Gabba pitch at shield level," former bowler John Hastings posted on Twitter, with a photograph highlighting how green the wicket was.
But Finch and former Aussie middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb managed to see off the openers and guide Victoria past 50 without further loss.
Test great Warne had erupted at his home state for not allowing Finch to open in his only red-ball warm-up, labelling the decision a "disgrace."
"Just read Aaron Finch will not be opening in the Shield game this week with Harris, but a week later they will open together for Aust against India," Warne wrote on Twitter.
"This is a disgrace by Vic and must be fixed before the game - can we please have common sense back into cricket in this country!
"Have we forgotten what Shield cricket is for in this country? To produce Test players.
"Shield cricket should also be the place to learn how to play the game the right way - so when you're picked for Aust you're ready. Vics have it wrong and should do what's best for Aust - end of (story)."
Fellow Victorian Fleming was also critical. "I just think, obviously we want to win the Shield and we want to keep producing Victorian Australian players," he told SEN Breakfast.
"Also, when the Australian players come back into the system, you still got to try and give them the best preparation for when they go back and play for Australia and in this case, and it's a unique case, I think the individual needs to get some love around the team environment. That's why he should open."
But Cricket Victoria GM Shaun Graf said moving Finch to suit the national team would threaten the integrity of the domestic competition.
"We're certainly not keen to change our opening line-up, contrary to everyone else's opinion," he told SEN. "We're still the Victorian cricket team and from our point of view we've got a very good opening combination.
"He's (Finch) made a lot of runs for us in the last two years batting in the middle at five, but the coaching staff and captain have looked at putting him up a little bit higher, so he does get that new ball opportunity."
"There's no actual directive that says you must do this or you must do that, otherwise that just completely mucks around with the integrity of the competition," Graf added.
"The Shield competition is a very strong competition and everything we have done has been to always make Australian cricket strong.
"We've also got to protect the integrity of not only the game, but of Victorian cricket."