Steven Finn was not a certainty in the playing XI going into the first Test match at Trent Bridge but a lot of English fans would have been relieved to find his name on the team-sheet.
Bresnan has often pipped him to the spot in the recent past but there is no doubt about the fact that the tall, lanky imposing fast bowler has the greater talent though he can be occasionally inconsistent with his execution.
He was right on the money on Day 1 however and gave England those two critical breakthroughs with the new ball that paved a way back for them in the game after a dismal outing with the bat. He was rather lucky to get the new ball ahead of Stuart Broad as his colleague had suffered a blow on the shoulder while playing a brief but valuable innings earlier that day.
He made the most of his opportunity and picked up two consecutive wickets to rattle the Australian top-order. He assessed the conditions quickly and made the necessary adjustment to his natural length in a deliberate attempt to bowl full in order to extract some swing. he found the edge of Shane Watson’s bat and the crowd at Trent Bridge erupted in joy.
Generally speaking, Steven Finn is not a swing bowler. He uses his high-release point to good effect and hits the deck hard with his enormous pace.
He will be England’s first change bowler at the Ashes for the most part, presuming that he retains his form and consequently his place ahead of Tim Bresnan. Finn’s a more attacking bowler in many ways as compared to Tim Bresnan but he can give that odd loose delivery to the batsman allowing him to break the shackles.
With James Anderson building the pressure at the other end, that kind of mistake will not get him into the good books of the captain.
He has been a regular part of the England squad for a while now but he has faced stiff competition from within the camp.
Nonetheless, he has mustered up 22 Test match appearances for England in which he has taken 88 wickets at a neat four wickets per Test match, two per innings. That is a healthy contribution from the most inexperienced member of a side that usually plays with three to four fast bowlers and one quality spinner.
Ashes 2013 will be Finn’s first at home and he will want to make a distinct impact on the tournament. He played the first three Test matches in 2010-11 in Australia with a return of 14 wickets but had to leave the series halfway due to fitness troubles.
He was obviously disappointed with that turn-out especially as England went on to win the last two Test matches to clinch the series 3-1.
He said, ” I was only 21 so as long as you learn from those experiences, granted there was pain when I was left out of that team for the last two games, so when I do get the chance to play in any game of this series hopefully I can make it count.”
His awe-inducing height also gives him that downside as he can be prone to injuries. But he has worked on that aspect of his game and relentless gym sessions have helped him keep a neat fitness record. “I’m a lot more physically stronger and a lot more physically functional than I was then, which is important as a fast bowler,” Finn assured the media ahead of the Ashes Test.
It is an important aspect for a fast bowler like him as it will allow him to bowl longer spells and with greater control.
The fame and the accolades that an Ashes series win brings along with it are well known. Finn, like most English lads who come through the ranks, rates the Ashes above everything else. “When you grow up, you grow up on a diet of Ashes cricket, the rivalry with Australia is huge and when there is a home Ashes series, it sort of encapsulates the nation and gets everyone involved in it.”
Graeme Swann recently joked about how he hoped to be knighted at the end of the series for his contribution of 50 wickets in the series and while that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, the incentives that the triumphant English sides have received in the past are comparable to a knighthood.
On a more serious note, Steven Finn will be aware of the impetus that the Ashes can provide to his career.