AARON FINCH last night told of his desire to return to Yorkshire once his current short-term contract at Headingley expires.
The big-hitting Australian, the world’s highest ranked Twenty20 batsman, is hoping to wow a capacity crowd in tonight’s sell-out Roses clash.
Finch hit a scintillating 88 when the two rivals met earlier this month at Old Trafford as the Vikings emerged triumphant on a controversial night that saw the hosts penalised six runs for a slow over rate.
That and the Australian’s quick-fire innings saw Andrew Gale’s men triumph by five wickets. Finch is expecting a backlash from the Red Rose county tonight as the latest instalment in the fiercest domestic rivalry in cricket is played out at Headingley.
“Lancashire will be a great game,” said the 27-year-old, who will be available for the rest of the Vikings’ group games before flying back home to take part in a training camp with the Australian national team.
“They will be out for some revenge at our home ground. It will be exciting. The people of Leeds and Yorkshire will be right behind us.”
Finch accepted the offer to join Yorkshire despite having two more lucrative offers on the table.
Head coach Jason Gillespie is understood to have played a big part in persuading his fellow countryman to opt for Headingley, while Darren Lehmann, a White Rose cricket legend and current boss of Australia, also helped steer Finch towards the Broad Acres.
It is a decision that the 27-year-old, who scored his maiden century for Yorkshire in this week’s County Championship triumph over Warwickshire, has never regretted.
Finch added: “This is a great place to play your cricket. I am very grateful for the opportunity to play cricket here and happy to have scored some runs.
“It was a nice feeling in the week to get a hundred and contribute to a great win for Yorkshire. I would love to come back in the future. The county has been fantastic to me. Nothing has been too hard from their point of view.
“Everything has been smooth and I have loved being around the boys. They are a great bunch of lads. If the opportunity to return came up down the tracks, I would definitely jump at it.”
Should Yorkshire reach the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast at the start of August, Finch’s absence would, no doubt, be keenly felt.
The Vikings have, though, to qualify first and the coming eight days – when Gale’s side play five matches in the shortest form of cricket – will go a long way towards deciding the county’s fate.
With seven points from five games, Yorkshire are fifth in the North Division.
They do, however, have either two or three matches in hand on the quartet of sides sitting above them in the table.
Lancashire, second with 12 points from eight games, are one of those teams that Yorkshire have in their sights – making tonight’s eagerly-anticipated clash a potentially crucial affair.
“My innings against Lancashire was one I enjoyed,” said Finch, who believes the big danger tonight will come from Junaid Khan and Kabir Ali.
“That innings was a good one. I paced my innings quite well. I was a bit inconsistent at the start and trying to hit the ball too hard. I was a bit one paced as a result.
“But, as I continued through my innings, I felt I played reasonably well and seemed to hit the gaps pretty well. I enjoyed it.
“He (Khan) is a super bowler and a guy, when bowling at the death with Kabir Ali, who is hard to score runs against. They are such great yorker bowlers.
“In that regard, you have to be smart in how you approach them. They are obviously a big danger because they move the ball in the air, which presents the biggest challenge in the shortest form.
“You have to respect them at the start and at the end. I suppose it is about taking your medicine and probably not looking to take as big a risk against those guys as you would against others.
“Hopefully, there are one or two bowlers in the attack that you can go after quite hard.”
Tim Bresnan should be available after missing the Championship victory over Warwickshire to have an injection in a troublesome elbow injury, while Adam Lyth is expected to overcome a bang on the hand received on the final day at Edgbaston that required treatment off the field.
Lancashire will be gunning for revenge tonight, especially considering the controversial docking of six runs for a slow over rate that helped Yorkshire chase down a target of 180 runs.
Captain Gale said: “It was a great win over there. It was fantastic to be involved in. It is a sell out at Headingley, and all the lads are excited about Friday night.
“We have won a few tricky games there over the years. Any win at Old Trafford is special, but to win in the fashion we did by knocking 180-odd off – and there was a little bit of controversy around it as there usually is in the Roses games – was great.
“At least this time, I wasn’t involved. I kept well out of it.”
Bairstow’s goal: Page 19.