TOPSHOT - Australia's captain Aaron Finch looks on in the field during the 2019 Cricket World Cup second semi-final between England and Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, on July 11, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Just over 12 months out from an ODI World Cup isn't the ideal time for Australia to be asking questions over who the captain is, but it also means the last chance to make a change is rapidly approaching before preparations really ramp up.

Australia have some big questions ahead of the tournament, to be played in India next November and December, and the pressure to bounce back after the calamity in 2019 will be immense.

Being bounced out in the semi-finals by England in somewhat humiliating circumstances will be cause for fans to demand better from cricket's most successful long-term nation.

But for that to happen, the team have to be settled, and that starts at the top.

Sure, there is the question over the make up of the middle order, whether Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith can co-exist, how many all-rounders to play and how to fit Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc into a team where all-rounders could bat down to number eight.

But the biggest question of the lot is what to do with Aaron Finch?

His struggles have been worked out by every team around the world, and indeed domestically, who bowl to him, and there is seemingly no answer in sight for him to overcome the problems which have hampered his run-scoring in all formats and at all levels of the game.

Certainly, it's too late to change captain in the T20 format, and he may well retire from the shortest form of the game at international level following the World Cup on home soil this year.

The 35 - almost 36-year-old - is unlikely to be around by the time the next T20 World Cup in 2024, to be hosted in the West Indies and USA, and so it would make little sense for him to continue as captain beyond the current World Cup, with his focus switching to the domestic game around the world in the shortest format following the tournament.

But his future in the ODI game should also come under the microscope for immediate discussion.

The problem is this - Australia can not afford to carry an opening batsman who is failing to score runs because of the simple fact that he has the captaincy next to his name.

Unarguably, Finch isn't in Australia's strongest XI in the 50-over format right now, no matter what he brings to the team with the captaincy, whether that be strategy or stability, as well as experience with 142 ODIs for the nation under his belt.

Since scoring 75 against India in Canberra during December of 2020, Finch has passed 50 just once in Australian colours - that against Sri Lanka in Colombo in the most recently completed series away from home.

His scores in 10 ODIs read 23, 0, 0, 44, 14, 62, 0, 0, 15 and 1.

That is 159 runs at an average of just 15.9. Take out the 62 and it's 97 runs in 9 innings at an average of just 10.78.

The series against India in early 2020 did see him go past 50 twice and score a century, but his struggles go back further than that, with just one century and one century and seven half-centuries in his last 22 innings for Australia, although his average dating back to early 2020 sits at a healthier 32.

Still, there are simply too many failures to suggest his spot in the side should be rock solid, heading into a World Cup where scores of 350 or more could be the normal, rather than a rarity.

That requires good starts, and it's impossible to get off to them if one of your openers is a walking wicket after soaking up dot balls. Unfortunately, soaking up dot balls is something Finch has been tending to do in recent times as well, with only one of his last 12 ODI innings managing to have a strike rate of over 100.

That simply put is not good enough.

Opening partner David Warner hasn't been in the richest vein of form either, but has certainly had more success than the skipper of the side.

The options to replace Finch as captain are certainly there, whether it be Test captain Pat Cummins or former skipper Test Steve Smith, but something must be done if he can't find a way to score runs against Zimbabwe in the third ODI on Saturday, and then against New Zealand in Cairns next week.

The Aussie skipper has looked all at sea in the first two ODIs against the African nation, scoring just 15 and 1, and if that continues for the next four matches, then the Aussies won't play again until after the T20 World Cup in the 50-over format when they face a formidable foe in England.

From there, Australia have just 17 more ODIs before the World Cup (3 at home against England, 3 away against India, 3 away against Afghanistan, 5 away against South Africa and another 3 away against India directly before the tournament starts).

If they are going to make a change, it has to be for that England series.

Adding to the pressure will be the fact that the Marsh OD Cup domestically will have commenced by then, with each state playing a couple of games before the England series.

That means players who performed last year will have their chance to mount a claim to the opening position, and there are plenty of options.

Matt Renshaw was the OD Cup's top run-scorer last summer with 377 in 6 innings, while Josh Philippe has been superb in all white-ball cricket over the last 18 months and could also do the job at the top of the order.

Jake Weatherald is another option who has been a consistent performer for South Australia and the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash, while young gun Henry Hunt will be snapping around for an opportunity in Australian colours somewhere this summer.

The other option could be even to go look at the side internally and move Alex Carey to the top of the list, opening up even more room for all-rounders, which then balances the team with more bowling options.

Should Carey open, Smith, Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Green and Mitchell Marsh could all play down to number eight, or one could miss out with all of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc included, or a second spinning option with matches in the sub-continent.

The options Carey opening creates would be endless, but with Australia having a number of options, Finch simply must perform this coming week in the next four ODIs.

Perform, or the T20 World Cup could be his final day out in green and gold.