In a dream Lord’s debut, Australian opener Aaron Finch’s unbeaten 181 propelled the MCC side to a dominant seven-wicket victory over Shane Warne’s Rest of the World side on Saturday.
In his first appearance at the home of cricket at any level, Finch could not have asked for a better introduction – which included hitting the winning runs with the sixth six of his innings.
The stocky Victorian also belted 23 boundaries, batted alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Rahul Dravid, three of the top five highest run-scorers in Test history, and led his side to victory.
His 181 off just 145 balls was the backbone around which the MCC successfully chased down ROW’s target of 294 with 25 balls to spare, putting on 107 runs with Tendulkar (44), 67 with Lara (23) and 122 with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (37 off 47).
By the end of the match he had Warne and Tendulkar convinced his Test debut wasn’t far around the corner.
“That was special. It was a joy to watch him play,” Tendulkar said.
“I wish him all the best for a wonderful career. He’ll be there soon in the long form of the game as well.”
Warne added: “He’s a fantastic player. I’d love to see him in Australian colours in Test matches. That would be pretty fun.”
It wasn’t all smiles for Australians at Lord’s however, with Warne suffering a broken hand as a result of a Brett Lee beamer, meaning he was not able to bowl.
Earlier, it was Yuvraj Singh and Saeed Ajmal who had stolen the spotlight from some of cricket’s all-time greats.
Yuvraj scored a blistering 132 to rescue the ROW from an embarrassing score after Ajmal had torn their top order apart – ending Adam Gilchrist’s entertaining 29-run cameo before snaring the scalps of Tamim Iqbal (1), Kevin Pietersen (10) and countryman Shahid Afridi (0), with all four wickets coming in just 15 balls at a cost of five runs.
At 5-68 there were fears the match was destined to fizzle and the capacity crowd would not get their money’s worth.
After all, they had gathered to watch some of cricket’s all-time champions don the whites one more time, in celebration of the bicentenary of the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
The records of the players on display were incredible – led mostly by Tendulkar, Lara and Dravid, the 22 involved combined for 98,151 Test runs, while the two most prolific wicket-takers, Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan, provided much of the 2,940 Test scalps.
But Yuvraj and Paul Collingwood (40 off 64) combined to add 131 from 150 balls for the sixth wicket, before Australian Test quick Peter Siddle (33) chimed in to add some respectability to the score.
And then it was Finch, who has starred for Australia in Twenty20 and one-day formats but is yet to make his Test debut, who stood out.
The 27-year-old started strongly and rarely let up, except for a quieter period in the 90s as he crept towards a well-deserved century.
He didn’t show much sympathy towards any of the ROW bowlers, thumping Victorian team-mate Siddle back over his head for six, sweeping Muralitharan to the boundary and giving Yuvraj a belting as well.
The MCC side had only one real hiccup during their innings, when Collingwood dismissed Lara and Dravid (0) in consecutive deliveries, before Shivnarine Chanderpaul survived the hattrick delivery and went on ice the game with Finch, including back-to-back sixes off Pietersen.