Steve Finn feels he is close to life in the fast lane again

England bowler has fallen off the radar since tinkering with his run-up but says he is almost back to his best

Melbourne

It is much too soon to ask where it all went wrong for Steve Finn. But something is amiss with a fast bowler, perhaps England’s fastest, who should have played an integral part in this Ashes series yet so far has played none.

There can have been no more forlorn member of the touring party than Finn these past few weeks. One of three gigantic fast bowlers picked for Australian pitches along with Boyd Rankin and Chris Tremlett, it begins to look an increasingly misguided policy. At least the other two and the rest of the party have been selected, been close to being selected or been genuinely available. England have not dared to let Finn close enough to be part of losing the Ashes.

His bowling has been in trouble for months. It was evident against Australia in the first Test at Trent Bridge last July that all was not well. Finn took the first two wickets of the series, in successive balls, and then nothing else since. There were times in that match, excruciatingly won by England by 14 runs, when Alastair Cook could not afford to bowl Finn. He was dropped and has yet to be selected to play another Test.

From the start of this tour, it was clear something was amiss. Accuracy, length, pace were all awry in the warm-up matches he played. There were glimpses, no more, of the bowler he was, or should have been by now. Is it finis for Finn at 24?

“Everyone goes through ups and downs in their career and I hadn’t really been on a down yet,” he said yesterday. “I’ve had a few iffy patches but I’ve always felt as though I’d been bowling OK and the turning point wasn’t far away. The turning point at times has felt further away over the last eight months than it has in the past but I feel I’m nearing that turning point now.”

If it was dauntless of Finn to put the Jaguar F-type through its paces on behalf of a team sponsor at Sandown, it was braver of him to discuss the difficulties that have enveloped his bowling. From the moment Finn pitched up belatedly to join an England squad for the first time in Bangladesh it was clear he had something. By now, it was plain, he would be an essential part of England’s attack, 6ft 8in tall, fast, bouncy, hitting the pitch and able to exert reverse swing. Except that he is not. Indeed, the displays of this tour have made him impossible to select.

Poor Finn has been beset by irritating quirks. Early in his international career he kept falling over after releasing the ball in the delivery stride. Having apparently eradicated that, he started regularly dislodging the bail with a bent right knee as he got too close to the stumps. It was so unusual that an amendment to the laws was introduced decreeing that it should be a no-ball. Known as Finn’s Law in his honour, it is an unwanted legacy.

“It wasn’t ideal but even though I was knocking the stumps I was still bowling well and still bowling quick,” he said. “Straightening my run-up and going through the crease as I do now will benefit me long-term. Having to work through that problem was good but the other bits of timing in my action may have been thrown out. It’s difficult for me to say.”

On the tour of New Zealand last year, Finn shortened his run-up, a change the England bowling coach, David Saker, had been urging him to make for months. At first it seemed to work and his pace remained undiminished. When the first Test at Dunedin came round, Finn was talking quite seriously to a rapt audience about bowling at 100mph. It has never been the same since and a superb nightwatchman’s half-century in that match has been scant consolation.

“The shortening of the run-up may not have helped but it was my decision to do that,” he said. “I tried it but now I’ve gone back to my old run-up and it feels as though I’m getting closer to being a better bowler than I was before, or at least as good a bowler as I was.”

There has been a feeling, oft expressed, that Finn, far from having too little advice, has had too much, that many different voices may have confused him. His mentor is Angus Fraser, who has offered sage advice since he joined Middlesex. Then there is the county bowling coach, Richard Johnson, Saker and the ECB’s fast bowling coach, Kevin Shine.

Finn said: “Me and Sakes are doing a lot of work closely together and I always speak to Gus because he’s my mentor and has had me under his wing for about five years now. I’m grateful for people who can offer me different bits of bowling coaching because everybody has their own strength.

“It’s good to have these people giving me information and ultimately it’s up to me to filter that. Maybe I haven’t filtered it as well as I could over the last 12 months.”

Finn’s knack of taking wickets is unarguable. When playing at Sydney against an invitation XI in the last warm-up match before the Ashes he bowled like a drain for most of it but still took eight wickets. In the 2010-11 Ashes, from which he was dropped, he took 14 wickets in two matches. He recognises that his best bet may simply be to run up and bowl fast.

“I average 29 in Tests, 26 in one-dayers and early twenties in T20, so the numbers suggest I can do it,” he said. “I’m not doubting my ability because I’ve done it in the past. Maybe over the last eight months I haven’t been ready enough but I’m at the point where I’m close to being an international cricketer.” The truth is that if England are to regain the Ashes in 2015 they need Finn.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution