England vs India fourth Test: Steven Finn called up to the squad to replace Liam Plunkett

Plunkett is out with an ankle injury

Cricket Correspondent

By now, Steven Finn was supposed to be a key part of England’s bowling attack. Fast, tall, menacing, a taker of wickets; he has it all as a speed merchant.

When he was summoned today to the cause for the fourth Test at Old Trafford, which starts on Thursday, it was the first but highly significant step in his rehabilitation as an international cricketer. If he really is back, in a sense greater than merely being recalled to the squad, it will be immensely good news for England.

He will replace Liam Plunkett in the cadre of 13 for the match, with the Investec series standing at 1-1. Plunkett, himself making rapid progress on the comeback trail this season, has been forced to withdraw with an injury to his left ankle. Finn’s place in the England Lions squad for their upcoming matches against Sri Lanka A and New Zealand A goes to Boyd Rankin of Warwickshire.

Although Plunkett was omitted for the match at Southampton, which England won by 266 runs, it was confirmed yesterday that he first felt a twitch in his ankle after the Lord’s match so was probably not fit for selection.

There were heavy hints that Plunkett’s speed would see him earn a recall at Old Trafford on what is expected to be the quickest Test pitch of the summer. Given Finn’s pace allied to height that allows him to extract bounce, that suggests he may not simply be along for the ride.

For Finn, it all started to go wrong last year and there were warning signs before he took his place in the team for the first Test of last summer’s Ashes. He secured England’s first two wickets of the series but in the second innings lost his sense of direction completely.

He has not played a Test since, though he was part of the giant fast-bowler strategy for the winter Ashes tour which never remotely took off. Out of sorts for the entire trip, he reached a stage where it was impossible to pick him for any form of cricket, let alone a Test XI, because he could hardly let go of the ball.

England’s fast-bowling coach, David Saker, said: “We’ve tried different things, he has worked extremely hard in the nets, he always does. Some weeks we moved a long way forward and some weeks we moved a long way backwards. That was pretty much the whole story of the whole trip.”

It took England until the start of the one-day series Down Under to admit that they dare not select Finn and that he needed a break. Those who saw him operating in the Melbourne nets before the fourth Test (as it happens, on the day Graeme Swann announced his retirement) were astonished to see a bowler faltering in his run-up who was struggling to propel the ball down to the batsman’s end.

Finn began the season with Middlesex by taking 6 for 80 against Sussex at Hove and followed it immediately with 5 for 91 against Nottinghamshire at Lord’s. He has always had the happy knack of taking wickets but observers insisted that something was still lacking.

Since then he has had steady if unspectacular returns with five four-wicket hauls which have given him 44 Championship wickets. He has recently started taking the new ball again, though oddly enough his worst first-class figures of the season were the 0 for 88 in 20 overs he had in his most recent match for Middlesex, a 220-run defeat at Scarborough a fortnight ago.

The England selectors, among whose number is Angus Fraser, the Middlesex director of cricket, will have pondered long and hard before making this call. If Finn’s powers are restored India’s ribs will be tickled in a way not entirely to their liking.

Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test