Finn accepts ‘unselectable’ tag


Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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England’s tour of Sri Lanka is Steven Finn’s chance to prove how far he has come in the 10 months since he was deemed “unselectable” in Australia.

Finn does not quibble with the adjective chosen back in January by then coach Ashley Giles, by way of explanation for why the fast bowler was heading home rather than continuing a one-day international series with his team-mates.

A mid-career blip, apparent result of his costly habit of knocking over the stumps with his knee in delivery and steps taken by himself and others to eradicate the problem, was verging on a crisis – of form and confidence.

The outcome was Finn played no part in England’s descent to Ashes whitewash last winter and then could not be considered either for the limited-overs matches which followed.

Only after six remedial months with Middlesex and on the periphery of England squads did he again take the field for his country, in three ODIs against India at the end of last summer.

His performances were not spectacular but much more encouraging, as were figures of two for 43 in the 56-run Duckworth-Lewis victory over Sri Lanka A on Friday with which England began their World Cup winter.

Finn must balance responsibility of being thrust back into a linchpin position for an inexperienced pace attack – in the absence of the injured Stuart Broad and James Anderson – and his own progression back towards a billing as one of the world’s best white-ball bowlers.

The prize will come if and when he returns a year on to Australia, “selectable” again in England’s first-choice team for the World Cup.

As for Giles’ choice of words, Finn admits it was uncomfortably appropriate.

“I think it was fair enough,” he said.

“‘Unselectable’ is a harsh way to put it, harsh and frank – but if I’m being honest, I couldn’t have gone out there and done myself justice in an England shirt.

“But that has spurred me on to become ‘selectable’ again.

“I wanted to be ‘selectable’ to play for England again. That was my dream when I left Australia.”

The 25-year-old has yet to demonstrate he is back to anywhere near his best, but believes he has learned from his adversity.

“I don’t think there’s a player ever who hasn’t gone through a tricky time, and I think you learn a lot about yourself.

“I think before I experienced what happened in the last 12 months I didn’t really have an understanding – I just ran up and bowled.

“You can bowl with naivety, just run up and bowl, but now I have a far better understanding.”

He is determined to look forward rather than back, but cannot stargaze yet about the World Cup – his focus instead on the immediate future of England’s second warm-up match on Sunday before the first of seven ODIs on Wednesday.

Finn said: “I have only played three or four international games of cricket in the last 12 months, so I suppose I’m feeling my way back in a little bit.

“But I don’t want to feel my way back in; I want to hit the ground running.

“I was a little bit rusty yesterday. I hope I’ll be improved tomorrow – and come Wednesday if I get picked, I’ll be at 100%.”

The full percentage reference does not mean right back to the level of some of his most outstanding ODI spells between 2011 and early 2013.

“There’s room for improvement with my pace to get back to where I was 18 months, two years ago,” said Finn.

“That’s the last tip of the iceberg for me, I think.

“The pace isn’t ‘missing’.

“I bowl quick spells – it’s just that consistency that I’m looking for.

“I think even at my absolute best I didn’t bowl 90mph every single spell.

“Much as I want to look at it through rose-tinted glasses, that didn’t happen.”

At no point did he lose faith in his ability, long term.

“I never thought I wouldn’t get my form back.” he said.

“Even on the day before I left Australia, I was still bowling in the nets, and it was still going where I wanted it to go.

“I was just in a bad place at the time … (but) I never doubted I could come back from it.

“When I got back to England I think I had 10 days off and was climbing up walls to try and get back into training and make it better.

“That period was obviously very valuable for me. But now I don’t really want to dwell on the past – I want to look forward.”

He believes sub-continental conditions give him an ideal opportunity to restate his case.

“I see this Sri Lanka trip as a platform to kick on,” he said.

“There are World Cup (places) up for grabs – which no one is guaranteed.”

England (possible, v Sri Lanka A at the P Sara Oval, Colombo, starting at 0415 GMT on Sunday): AN Cook (Captain), MM Ali, IR Bell, JE Root, EJG Morgan, JC Buttler (wkt), RS Bopara, BA Stokes, CR Woakes, JC Tredwell, ST Finn

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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