A week ago he was a tall kid with high hopes. Some time yesterday he became the latest embodiment of the Flying Finn. Steven Finn, that is, of Middlesex and now England.
As England ground their way inexorably but slowly towards victory in the first Test, it was their newest (and tallest) fast bowler who suddenly stood out. He took only one wicket in Bangladesh's second innings to add to that he took in the first, but there was a buzz around the Divisional Stadium here in Chittagong every time he had the ball in his hand.
On a sluggish surface which refused to deteriorate on the fourth day, Finn's 11 overs in two spells were an impressive example of the tall fast-bowler's craft. He extracted some lift and movement both ways, he was hostile in intent and look, and he might have had three or four more wickets.
It was on the stroke of lunch that he sent the requisite shivers down the spine – though Flying Finns have traditionally been middle-distance runners, epitomised by Paavo Nurmi. The third ball of his fourth over speared towards the Bangladeshi opener Imrul Kayes, reared more than he hoped and moved away late. He was gone. To those on constant alert for the next special English fast bowler (which is most people since vigilance in such matters is essential) that was a key moment. They were already thinking of Brisbane next winter and a different kind of opening Test in a different series.
Finn, however, whose height is listed as 6ft 7in but has now nudged 6ft 8in, appears to be blessed with abundant sense and logic as well as other qualities. "I haven't looked that far ahead, I'm by no means targeting an Ashes tour," he said. "It would be lovely to be there, but there's a lot of hard work between now and then. I have to prove that I'm capable of performing consistently. For a month now I've been bowling quite well but I have to do that over seven months of a county season."
Although Bangladesh refused to go easily yesterday, once more demonstrating that they can bat at this level with the necessary application, it seems wise to have awarded Finn a cap here rather than elsewhere.
England batted on in the morning, briskly and entertainingly through Graeme Swann, more circumspectly through Ian Bell. They were 512 ahead by the time they declared after 50 minutes and when they struck twice before the first interval a four-day finish looked probable more than possible in many eyes.
That, however, was the patronising view of Bangladeshi cricket and the batsmen's doggedness in the final two sessions of the day was exemplary. They lost three more wickets, two to the continually unsung Tim Bresnan, who bowled straight and with some unconventional movement.
Junaid Siddique played with hitherto unseen aplomb and the 199 balls he faced made it his longest, if not by the close his highest Test innings. For the second time in the match, Mushfiqur Rahmin showed he has the right stuff, as small for a cricketer as Finn is tall, squat at the crease but light and precise on his feet. The pair put on 81 by the end of the fourth day, still 322 short of the most extraordinary win in history.
Finn, an inch taller than David Larter, Tony Greig and Chris Trelmett, gave them both the hurry-up without reward and it was actually Bresnan who caused Mushfiqur most discomfort by hitting him in the chest. Maybe Finn was getting too much bounce. He is happy to be here for many reasons, not least what he might have been doing had the summons not come last week for him to join the squad. "As we speak, I'd probably be getting woken up by an army officer in Exeter," he said. "We had a pre-season boot camp planned in Exeter. Angus [Fraser] said that 'last year you went to Dubai, you didn't do very well in the season, so you're going to boot camp this year'. I'd probably be in a tent in the middle of a forest."
It is 40 years since another tall, gangly fast bowler was called up from an English winter. That was the great Bob Willis, flown to Australia at short notice to play a small but important role in a famous Ashes triumph by Ray Illingworth's side.
In Chittagong as a commentator, he sees a future for Finn. "I have had my eye on him for some time and I think he has all the attributes to be a good international fast bowler," said Willis last night. "He has pace and bounce and, although he bowls better for the moment at right-handers than left-handers, he's getting better. I have been impressed with what he's done here and he appears to have broken down something of a barrier."
Willis took 325 Test wickets. Finn had 323 to go last night to match that. Everybody knows it will be hard – nobody was saying it will be impossible.
First Test: day four of five
ENGLAND First Innings 599-6 dec
BANGLADESH First Innings 296
ENGLAND Second Innings Overnight: 131-5
I R Bell not out......... 39
55 balls 4 fours 1 six
†M J Prior c Hossain b Al Hasan......... 7
15 balls 1 four
G P Swann c Siddique b Al Hasan......... 32
25 balls 3 fours
Extras (b 5, lb 2, nb 2)......... 9
Total (7 wkts dec, 49.3 overs)......... 209
Fall: 1-65 (Cook), 2-87 (Trott), 3-126 (Pietersen), 4-130 (Carberry), 5-131 (Collingwood), 6-144 (Prior), 7-209 (Swann).
Did not nat: S C J Broad, T T Bresnan, S T Finn.
Bowling: S Hossain 6-0-19-0, R Hossain 6-1-28-0 (nb2), M Mahmudullah 8-0-26-1, N Islam 3-0-14-0, S Al Hasan 16.3-1-62-4, A Razzak 10-2-53-2 .
BANGLADESH Second Innings
T Iqbal b Swann......... 14
33 balls 1 four
I Kayes c Prior b Finn......... 23
45 balls 3 fours
J Siddique not out......... 68
199 balls 10 fours
A Ahmed c Prior b Bresnan......... 26
54 balls 4 fours
M Mahmudullah b Bresnan......... 5
11 balls 1 four
*S Al Hasan lbw b Swann......... 4
3 balls 1 four
M Rahim not out......... 47
105 balls 6 fours
Extras (b 2, lb 2)......... 4
Total (5 wkts, 75 overs)......... 191
Fall: 1-33 (Iqbal), 2-45 (Kayes), 3-99 (Ahmed), 4-105 (Mahmudullah), 5-106 (Al Hasan).
To bat: †Naeem Islam, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Shahadat Hossain.
Bowling: Broad 12-5-34-0, Bresnan 16-4-45-2, Finn 11-4-31-1, G Swann 29-6-61-2, Pietersen 5-1-11-0, Trott 2-0-5-0.
Umpires: A L Hill (NZ) & R J Tucker (Aus).
TV replay umpire: Enamul Haque (Bangla).
Match referee: J J Crowe (NZ).Reuse content