Ashes 2015: Steve Finn is set for recall after two years out with Mark Wood rested

Fast bowler was branded as unselectable after losing form and direction during the disastrous winter tour of 2013-14

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The Independent Online

England are on the verge of making a second change to their team to try to retake the lead in the Ashes series. Steve Finn, who has been to the bowling equivalent of hell and back, is likely to be recalled for the pivotal match.

If he replaces Mark Wood of Durham, as is being confidently predicted, it will be Finn’s first Test since the opening match of the 2013 Ashes. During the course of that summer he gradually lost form and direction, and by the end of the disastrous Ashes tour that winter he had lost form, confidence and any semblance of what it took to be an international fast bowler.

Finn was eventually sent home from the tour, branded as unselectable, which is as low as it can become for a professional sportsman. Gradually, he rebuilt his action and the memories of what used to be have followed over long months.

Alastair Cook, England’s captain, dropped a hint about the selectors’ intentions at Edgbaston and conceded that they had to be careful not to expect too much of Wood. “Woody has played a huge amount of cricket over the last six to eight months,” Cook said.

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“We’ve got to be careful, we want everyone to be as close to fitness as we can. Finny’s bowled really well for Middlesex and in the one-dayers. Whoever gets the nod is kind of the lucky one.”

Those who have seen Finn this season suggest that he is finally resembling once more the fast, confident bowler who broke so excitingly into the England team five years ago. It seemed that a glorious career lay ahead – Finn had pace allied to steep bounce because of his height – but he had two glitches in his action which were to dramatically impede his progress.

The first was a tendency to fall over after delivering the ball, the second was an involuntary proclivity for knocking the bails off  with his right knee in the delivery stride. It led to a change in the law making such an action a no ball and probably affected Finn more than he knows.

If he has overcome both habits, but especially the second, he has a chance at 26 of reviving his career. Finn has taken 27 Championship wickets for Middlesex in the first Division this summer at 27.85 runs each and also improved his economy rate. His greatest weapon in his first coming as a Test cricketer was a happy knack for simply taking wickets.

 

Although England are anxious to avoid wholesale changes, with Jonny Bairstow already replacing Gary Ballance, there is a feeling that a severe toll has been taken on Wood’s body after his introduction to the Test team in May. He has played four successive Tests and although his workload, 145 overs, has been relatively light it has still represented a significant increase on his previous output.

The main reason for Wood’s presence in the side is the high speed he generates off his short run. But his pace at Lord’s for the second Test was notably down on what he managed at Cardiff in the first, partly due to the pitch. If Finn is back at full pelt it will be a fair exchange.

Australia confirmed that Peter Nevill will retain his place as wicketkeeper in place of Brad Haddin, whose time as a Test cricketer may be at an end. They are also likely to select Chris Rogers, who has passed the medical and playing tests set for him after retiring hurt in the second innings at Lord’s suffering from dizziness.

Third Test details

Probable teams:

England A N Cook (capt),  A Lyth, I R Bell, J E Root,  J M Bairstow, B A Stokes,  J C Buttler (wkt), M M Ali, S C J Broad, ST Finn, J M Anderson.

Australia M J Clarke (capt), C J L Rogers, D A Warner, S P D Smith, A C Voges, M R Marsh, P M Nevill (wkt), M G Johnson, M A Starc, J R Hazlewood, N M Lyon.

Umpires Aleem Dar (Pak) and C B Gaffaney (NZ).

Weather Mainly dry and overcast, with chance of late showers. Maximum temperature: 16C

TV 10am-7pm, Sky Sports Ashes (highlights: 7-8pm, Channel 5)

Pitch report Likely to have a touch more pace, carry and seam movement than its two predecessors in the series.

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