James Lawton: England's greatest threat is their own complacency. This series is not won yet

The sweet arrogance of youth may be wonderful but there has never been a dose of it not helpfully diluted by a little experience of grown-up life. If this is indeed true, let us hope Steve Finn, aged 21, acquires in a hurry the required amount.

It might just help him avoid being smeared from one end of Australia to another when the battle for the Ashes starts in November.

Finn, let's be fair, is a promising prospect. At 6ft 8in, he went at the overwhelmed Bangladeshi batsmen like a force of nature earlier in the year and he's had his moments, though sharply less frequent, against a Pakistani team which for two Tests appeared to be learning to bat by numbers.

Yet if he suggests he has much of the right ability to make a sustained impact at the highest level of the game, does he have the right attitude?

This week's evidence is not encouraging. His remark that Pakistan, who so brilliantly turned back the tide at The Oval, are a "collapse just waiting to happen" at Lord's over the next few days would have been graceless on the lips of some old pro sledging a cowering young opponent.

Matt Prior did plenty of that at The Oval, along with the close-fielding cordon, and it was fair enough. But when Azhar Ali and Mohammad Aamer, aged 18, held their nerve they were entitled to a degree of respect. They had achieved a rite of passage.

Certainly, it was something that might have been ceded to them, at least until the battle recommenced, by opponents experienced enough to know quite what it is like fighting to establish yourselves in the Test game against formidable odds. It didn't come from Finn, however, which is worrying in that few Test neophytes can ever had an easier ride into the big time than the big man of Middlesex.

Until the arrival of the glacial calm, and clear influence, of Mohammad Yousuf at The Oval, Finn had won his headlines while breaking the eggshell batting of Bangladesh and then supplied respectable support work breaking down resistance equally negligible from Pakistan. It was a different picture with Yousuf around, of course. Pakistan's blood began to pulse more evenly – and Finn, the shock trooper, finished up with match figures of 1 for 92.

It was a signal for Australian opener Shane Watson to single out Finn for his inexperience and suggest that he will be targeted with some precision come the opening of hostilities in Brisbane. Routine propaganda, of course – and no doubt it is a category in which Finn's dismissal of the Pakistanis might be placed.

However, Watson does have a little sweat and sun on his brow, and you could say that he was speaking of something he knew. Finn's assumption that he could so brusquely trash a team that had just beaten his own in a memorable Test match, and from a position of such slender, and favourable experience, rather more than hints at the old English disease: a self-belief that is maybe too quickly acquired, and too easily shed.

As it may happen, Finn could well be proved right at Lord's. If Pakistan bravely regained their pride, initially through the brilliant bowling of Aamer and Saaed Ajmal, their batting did waver again at the climactic phase, and maybe it is asking a lot to assume that all of their demons will disappear into the leafy streets of St John's Wood today. More significant, though, to England's prospects in this Test – and in Australia – is their own ability to purge some alarming weaknesses.

The main one has been highlighted, however unconsciously, by one of their least experienced players. Grudging in his acknowledgement of the Pakistanis' comeback, dismissive of the character that was displayed in one of the darker passages of their nation's history, Finn hits a familiar note: one that plays to the habit of premature celebration of victories that still have to be gained, on this occasion against sharply improved opponents.

Such a leaning has already been mourned by England captain Andrew Strauss, who has accepted for some time that his great enemy, apart from the loss of his own form at a critical point, is his team's history of complacency. His predecessor Michael Vaughan railed against such danger after the Ashes of 2005, swearing that his great challenge was to keep his team honest, aware that one triumph means nothing unless it is a spur to greater achievement.

The injured Vaughan was forced to witness the results of English negligence, the grim ritual of an Ashes whitewash.

Such a fate may not necessarily beckon now but the reality is that England, seven months after surrendering to South Africa in a series that appeared to be won, are again faced with the possibility of a crushing anticlimax. We can sure of one thing. Mohammad Yousuf's eyes will surely have narrowed at the first callow talk of another batting collapse.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit