“In the short term, he needs a couple of weeks away. Steven is not selectable at the moment,” former England coach Ashley Giles said of Steve Finn after they were whitewashed 5-0 in Australia in 2013-14. Finn warmed the bench through the tour and Giles felt it was in interest of the bowler to head back home and get his act right.
The lanky seamer was struggling to get his act right. He would run to close to the non-striker’s stumps and often clip it in his stride. Many felt that the incident started playing up on his mind and affected his rhythm in the middle. He shortented his run-up only to see the situation get worse.
When nothing seemed to go his way, the Middlesex paceman started his journey from scratch. A different, not smooth for sure, action started to work. The 26-year-old represented the country at the World Cup and impressed, despite being expensive.
A five wicket-haul, which included a hat-trick, against arch-rivals Australia gave him the much needed self-belief and put his road to comeback on the right track. A decent ODI series against New Zealand followed, and Finn was all but certain for the Ashes summer.
The moment arrived and there he was, part of the Ashes squad. He still wasn’t the first choice as Mark Wood was preferred for the opening two Tests. England were expected to continue with the same combination before Wood picked up a niggle on his ankle.
Wood makes way for Finn
Wood’s fitness concern made way for Finn, who was playing his first Test for England in two years – he last played against Australia in the 2013 home Ashes.
While James Anderson set the tone of the game for England, it was Finn who injected music into action. His awkwardly rising deliveries, coupled with some sharp yorkers, made him a thorn in Australia’s flesh. The visitors had no answers to his consistent spells, both in the first and second innings.
In both the innings, Finn gave his skipper a wicket in his very first over and ensured to follow it up with another in quick succession.
Battle of Stevens
On both occasions, Finn got the better of star Aussie batsman Smith. But the manner in which he set him up was a treat to watch. In the first innings it was a short-full-good plan which trapped Smith and all the right-hander could do was edge it to the slips.
In the second innings however, it was the rising short delivery which got the better of Smith. Smith, though, was not his only bunny. Clarke too was dismissed by the seamer on both the occasions. While the first was with a swinging yorker, the second was his go-to delivery in the second innings.
Pitching just around the good-length spot, the delivery kicked, shaped away and caught the batsman in a must-play position. All they could do was hang their bat and present the catch to slips.
Eight wickets, man of the match award, on the right side of the result is certainly not a bad way to make return to Test cricket. Age on his side, Finn would like to cement his spot in the Test squad and repeat what he did at Edgbaston on a consistent basis.
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