"Will you let it overwhelm you or will you rise?"
Familiar questions might have hardly escaped Aaron Finch's mind since the events of Cape Town over four years ago. Not that Finch was in the thick of that saga, but the ripple effect was going to be obvious.
Finch was one of the most experienced members of the side and had a calm head on his shoulders; hence, a leadership role was likely not a choice.
Finch seemed the most plausible candidate to take over after Australia ended the first assignment under new coach Justin Langer winless, thrashed by England in six white-ball games. The sandpaper gate meant Australia had lost its spark, making Finch's task tougher than it already was. The turnaround wasn't instant as fans had to prepare themselves for a long haul.
With David Warner banned, Finch wore whites for the first time at the highest level in October 2018 in the UAE. Under alien conditions for Australia, he fared better than expected, scoring almost a half-century in both innings.
However, it wasn't to be for long as India's relentless bowling attack exposed his technique that home summer. Finch played the last of his five Tests at the iconic MCG and declared his unavailability in August 2020 to the format moving forward.
If that wasn't enough, Finch was enduring a torrid time in white-ball cricket and needed a quick turnaround with the World Cup in England lurking. But he seemed done and it looked like Australia would have yet another new captain to defend their World Cup crown in 2019.
The question Finch might have asked himself is, "Will you let it overwhelm you or will you rise?" And he did rise like a phoenix just in time for the World Cup.
As captain, Finch kickstarted Australia's dream of retaining their coveted crown for the third time. Australia failed to defend their crown, but taking them to the semi-finals was no small thing for Finch, under whom the five-time champions were no World Cup invincibles of the yesteryears. Moreover, the captain had overcome his struggles with the willow to finish as Australia's second-highest run-getter of the tournament.
The semi-final clash against England at the home side's fortress, Edgbaston, was a forgettable day for Australia's batters, bar Steve Smith and Alex Carey. But they certainly were a better side than the eight-wicket loss England handed out to them.
Unlike Michael Clarke, who was the apparent successor of Ricky Ponting, Finch wasn't. If Steve Smith, the then captain, were to step down, David Warner was the closest replacement. Hence, with Finch, the transition was far from straightforward. Finch isn't the typical in-your-face captain, but who knows what he could've been in the pre-sandpaper gate era.
Unlike Ponting, Finch didn't possess an unbeatable side with a strong mindset to win from any situation or the swagger 'Punter' did. Finch might not be as stern and tactically astute as Clarke. Yet, he will go down as one of the most important captains of Australia. Despite Australia's vulnerability under him, he deserves to be held in the same breath as the country's best limited-overs captains.
For under Finch, Australia hardly had a prolonged stability; hence, it would be unrealistic for them to continue piling on trophies in their cabinet. And yet, Finch brought sanity to Australian cricket the best he could at a time when it mattered a little more than on-field victories.
Also, it's worth remembering that Finch accomplished what sides under Ponting and Clarke - becoming the first Australian men's team captain to lift the T20 World Cup.
However, the blot that has followed Finch for a long time now is his struggle for runs. He might have played those odd knocks, like the one that came against Ireland in the recent T20 World Cup, but it's increasingly difficult to see him bounce back from this melee.
Nevertheless, Finch has refused to retire at this point from the only international format he is active in and has given himself a little opening for another comeback.
Can he, though? Only time will tell. But amid voices to call time on his career, the question he might be asking himself is, "Will you let it overwhelm you or will you rise?"