Two of the England players sent home early from the disastrous Australian tour – the first act of their winter from hell – on Tuesday take a step towards rebuilding their careers.
Jonathan Trott faces his first game for Warwickshire since suffering from what was termed a stress-related illness and Steven Finn continues his comeback in a friendly for Middlesex, with the likelihood he will make an earlier than expected return to the first-class game in the county’s opening Championship fixture against Sussex at Hove on Sunday.
Trott is set to play for Warwickshire in a two-day friendly with Gloucestershire at Edgbaston and Finn has a similar game against Hampshire. It will be Finn’s third match since he was sent back from the one-day series against Australia with his action and confidence in tatters.
A lengthy spell on the sidelines while repairs were made – Angus Fraser, Middlesex’s director of cricket and an England selector, said it “hit him hard” – seemed certain. Yet under the guidance of Fraser and Richard Johnson, Middlesex’s bowling coach, Finn has rediscovered an element of form and consistency, reverting to his longer run, which has helped adjust his delivery stride, and bowling well in a warm-up game against Surrey. “He’s making his way back and is making some decent progress,” Fraser said.
The former England bowler denied that Finn, who took 90 wickets in 23 Tests at a strike rate comparable to Dale Steyn before the Ashes tour, had been a victim either of overcoaching or of England and Middlesex making differing demands of his bowling.
“I think there has been a bit of ‘creative interpretation’,” said Fraser. “But there has been no battle or anything like that. Everybody involved takes responsibility. Everybody has been trying to help him but it’s not an exact science and you don’t get it right all the time. He is still an outstanding bowler who has struggled for a period of time. We are confident he will get back but it’s not about pressing a button. He’s making progress and we expect him to be in line to play against Sussex.”