YORKSHIRE are searching for an overseas batsman to replace Aaron Finch but insist the injured Australian will still be joining them later this summer.
Finch has been ruled out for up to 12 weeks with a torn hamstring sustained playing for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
He will miss most of Yorkshire’s group games in the T20 Blast – the tournament for which he was principally recruited – and a number of County Championship fixtures.
Twelve weeks from now is July 16, potentially leaving Finch only a limited window before Australia’s T20/one-day games begin against England on August 31, although Yorkshire hope the player might be fit by the end of June.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said the club are looking to sign a short-term replacement but will wait for their No 1 overseas recruit.
“Finchy will still play for us at some point,” said Moxon, whose best-laid plans have been thrown into turmoil.
“Obviously, he won’t be here for as long as we’d initially planned, from when the IPL finishes at the end of May until the start of Australia’s one-day matches, but he could still be with us for well over a month.
“From our point of view, we’re certainly prepared to give him the necessary time.
“He’s a brilliant player, and a very important member of our team.
“As far as a replacement is concerned, until Finchy has recovered, we’re looking into it, but we won’t be signing someone unless they’re the right fit.
“We were talking to someone but that’s fallen through, so we’ll just have to see if there are any other suitable candidates available.
“It’s not easy, because there are differing periods of time that people are available for – four or five games here and there – and it’s a little bit messy, so we’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons.
“Twelve weeks is the worst-case timescale for Finchy’s injury, and it might be that he can still play around five group games in the T20 Blast.”
Finch underwent surgery in Melbourne on Tuesday after damaging his left hamstring while batting against Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad the previous Tuesday.
Alex Kountouris, the Cricket Australia physiotherapist, said the 28-year-old would undergo an extensive rehabilitation programme in Australia.
In an official CA statement yesterday, Kountouris explained: “After returning to Australia injured from the IPL, Aaron had scans that confirmed a high grade hamstring injury.
“As such, Aaron was assessed by a surgeon who felt that he would have a better outcome with surgery. Aaron subsequently had surgery yesterday that has gone well. Aaron will now commence his rehabilitation, and we expect that rehabilitation to take up to 12 weeks.”
Finch’s injury is a blow to Yorkshire’s T20 hopes in particular – a tournament in which they have traditionally struggled and only once reached Finals Day.
Last year, they failed to reach the knockout stages despite having Finch for 10 of their group games, but this year they have also signed the Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for the T20 Blast to try to increase their chances of success.
Maxwell, who is set to fill in for Finch in Yorkshire’s Championship side, will arrive after his stint with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, but he will leave at the end of July to link up with the Australia A tour of India.
He is another who will be needed by Australia for their limited-overs matches against England at the end of the summer.
Yorkshire’s current overseas player, Cheteshwar Pujara, was recruited to stand in for Finch until his anticipated arrival from the IPL at the end of next month.
Pujara did not field on the final day of the County Championship game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge yesterday after damaging the webbing on his left hand on day three.
“He got a little bit of a nick on the webbing while fielding but he’ll be fine,” said Moxon, who is confident that Pujara will play in the club’s next Championship game against Warwickshire at Headingley on Sunday.
There is less promising news, however, on Ryan Sidebottom, the pace bowler who injured his left calf while batting against Worcestershire in the opening Championship match at New Road last week.
Yorkshire have confirmed the left-armer will be out for six weeks after Moxon initially predicted it would be “several weeks” before he was fit to return.
Sidebottom will miss the Championship games at home to Warwickshire and Hampshire and away to Somerset after scans confirmed a grade two tear.
“It is a great shame for Ryan,” said Yorkshire’s physiotherapist Kunwar Bansil in an official club statement. “We will monitor Ryan’s rehabilitation on a daily basis and hope that he will return to cricket in six weeks.”
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