The current interim head coach is the favourite to be Justin Langer’s permanent replacement
McDonald, who was already set to oversee the T20I series against Sri Lanka before Langer resigned, will now also be in charge for the tour of Pakistan next month in his role of interim head coach while the permanent replacement is chosen. He has previously stood in for Langer on limited-overs tours of India and New Zealand
Finch emphasised that, as with Langer’s departure, the final decision on who takes the role is not one for the players to make but was full of praise for McDonald’s qualities. He has a long association with McDonald having played under him with Melbourne Renegades and Victoria as well as Australia.
“He brings a lot of respect from the players, a calm approach, never seems to get flustered by any situation or result,” Finch said. “He brings a really good attitude and he’s been with the group for quite a while now.”
“I’ve worked with him for a long time, we played together for a long time, I know he’s very good at his job. Again, like everything that has gone before us, the players don’t make those decisions. We give our opinions, we give our feedback and that’s about it.”
Whoever takes on the head coach position full-time in the coming months, they will have Australia’s T20 World Cup title defence in October to prepare for on home soil.
“There’s quite a bit of pressure on after winning the World Cup, it does raise expectations, but we feel we’ve played some really good T20 cricket recently so we are excited,” Finch said. “Especially [with] us winning it in the UAE, that was something not many people gave us a chance to do. They would have given us a more realistic chance at home, so it certainly raises the pressure no doubt. But when you play for Australia there’s pressure on every series and tournament.”
When Langer resigned, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley confirmed they would be looking for a single replacement rather than splitting the head coach role between Tests and limited-overs cricket although he did signal an increasing use of assistants and specialist coaches.
“A collaborative approach with the players is very important,” Finch said. “When you’ve got different formats and guys are rotating in and out, creating a consistent environment is really important in that regard.”
“The group is in a really different space from four years ago. It’s quite an experienced group,” he said. “JL did an amazing job for four years and that ended with a brilliant T20 World Cup win and a 4-0 Ashes win. As a playing group we couldn’t thank him enough and the amount of work he’s done for me as a batter, a leader, a person, has been fantastic.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo