By Rob Barnett
Yorkshire have secured one of the winter’s marquee signings by landing explosive Australia limited-overs batsman Aaron Finch as a second overseas player for 2014.
Finch joins New Zealand’s Kane Williamson on the county’s books and will specialise in the NatWest T20 Blast, but will represent the White Rose in other cricket when Williamson is on international duty.
Finch, who will be available in mid-May after the Indian Premier League, announced himself to a UK audience with the highest Twenty20 international score in history last August.
The burley right-hander’s 156 versus England at the Ageas Bowl took just 63 balls and included an astonishing 14 sixes and 11 fours. More of the same came last month when he hit two one-day international tons against England.
Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale said: “He’s up there with the world’s best players at the minute.”
Gale may well open the batting with Finch and is excited about playing alongside someone who made 262 Big Bash League runs at an average of 52.4 and strike-rate of 148 while leading Melbourne Renegades this winter.
“The way he played out in Oz and that knock he played at Southampton last year, I’ll just be getting off strike and watching him bat,” Gale added.
“I watched him in the Big Bash over there, and the grounds that they play on are a lot bigger than our grounds over here in Twenty20 cricket and they don’t bring their boundaries in all that much. He’s clearing the rope and hitting it into the upper tier 15 rows back. I’m really looking forward to batting with him.”
Finch had interest from several other counties, so director of cricket Martyn Moxon was pleased to sign him at this stage.
“With Aaron’s success against England this winter in the ODIs, we wanted to get him nailed down now. We’re all delighted that he’s agreed to join us,” Moxon enthused.
Finch’s career T20 figures show a healthy average of 38.31 at a formidable strike-rate of 138.
However, Yorkshire head coach Jason Gillespie will be able to play the 27-year-old in other formats when Williamson is unavailable, such as during New Zealand's tour of the West Indies in the middle of the domestic season.
“His statistics show what an explosive player he is. Particularly for T20 he’s going to be a great addition to the squad and I’m really looking forward to having him,” Moxon said of Finch.
“He’s going to be playing all the cricket while Kane’s away. There may be some crossover between Kane and Aaron for T20, but when Kane’s away he’ll play in all forms of the game.”
Moxon sees Finch, who was today sold for £319,000 to Hyderabad Sunrisers in the IPL auction, as one of several “match-winners” at Yorkshire’s disposal.
“Hopefully the way he plays, he can get us off to really devastating starts and hopefully the rest of the lads can build on that,” Moxon added.
“We're not bringing him in for him to be the one match-winner. We've got match-winners hopefully throughout the team. But I think his style of play can really put us on the front foot at the top of the innings.”
Finch, who has played league cricket in York, revealed that a discussion with former Yorkshire player and current Australia coach Darren Lehmann persuaded him to join the White Rose.
Finch said: "It is a great honour to be joining Yorkshire County Cricket Club this summer. This is one of the biggest cricket clubs in the world with a history and tradition second to none. I've heard so much about the place and can't wait to join up with Jason Gillespie and the rest of the squad in May.
"When I heard Yorkshire was interested in signing me, I had no hesitation in signing. I had a good chat with Darren Lehmann and he recommended that I joined the club. He can't speak highly enough of the place and Yorkshire's loyal supporters.”