England v South Africa, 3rd NatWest ODI, The Oval

Cook in Strauss mould - Finn

George Dobell

August 30, 2012

Comments: 6 | Text size: A | A

Steven Finn talks to the media, The Oval, August 30, 2012
Steven Finn played for Middlesex alongside Andrew Strauss and made his Test debut under Alastair Cook © Getty Images
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If there were any doubts about the smooth transition between the captaincy regimes of Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, they should have been largely dispelled by the comments of Steven Finn ahead of the third ODI of the series between England and South Africa at the Oval.

Finn, in many ways, represents the new England. Aged just 23, he has the talent to represent the international team in all formats for much of the next decade. While still perceived as a relatively junior member of the attack, he is quickly emerging as the most dangerous bowler and, having come through the England system from Under-16 level, he is well-placed to speak about life as part of the England development programme.

Finn's experience as an England player also reflects that of many of the next generation. Like Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor, Finn has played under the captaincy of Strauss and Cook and understands that, while the personality of the captain may have changed, the policies and principles that have governed this side for some time have not.

Finn actually made his Test debut under Cook, called into the England squad for the tour of Bangladesh in early 2010. But, as a county colleague of Strauss at Middlesex, he has known him for even longer.

"The first time I met him was when I was 14," Finn said. "I was bowling in the indoor nets just before he was going off to the West Indies for a one-day tour, I think.

"I jagged one down to him, he ducked under it and fell over. I remember the coach shouting from the back of the net, 'You just got put on your arse by a 14-year-old!' That was the first time I ever met him. It was quite a surreal scenario: a 14-year-old bowling to an England player and eventually being in the same team as him.

"But Cook was the one who told me I was making my Test debut, so that always holds a great place in my heart. He made it very easy for a young player to come into an England team and just settle in, go about my business. That was the first experience I had of being in an England dressing-room and Alastair was excellent at welcoming me in and making me feel like one of the boys.

"I think the transition between the two will be smooth. Alastair has been used to working with Andy Flower as one-day captain. Alastair may have his own plans to introduce to the Test team but I would imagine the fundamentals will be very similar. We won't see a drastic change and I think that's good for us as a team."

Finn, like most of the England players, was only informed of Strauss' decision to retire after the ODI on Tuesday night. He was also among those to be given a letter from Strauss.

"It was a surprise," Finn said. "There were some shocked faces in the dressing room when we were told. Obviously it's a disappointing time when somebody who has been so great and inspirational for us as a team and a sport steps down from their position. Yes, there were some sad and disappointed people.'

"He's been a massive part of my career. It's been great to have him there at first slip when he's come back to Middlesex and to have him there to bounce ideas off and talk about different scenarios has been fantastic.

"He didn't want to be influenced by other people. That's part of the reason he didn't talk to the players before his decision. The letter just said he'd had a great time leading us and has been very proud leading us. We've been very proud to have him as our captain.

"But Cooky is a similar sort of leader to Straussy. He leads from the front as an opening batsman. He goes out and sets the tone, which is very good for a captain. He's grown into his role as a one-day captain and we've played quite aggressive cricket, especially with the way we've attacked people with ball and bat. I have a slip quite a lot when I'm bowling, which you don't always see in ODI cricket. That can only bode well for the future."

While the end result of Tuesday's ODI was a thumping win for South Africa, Finn made the perfectly reasonable point that the margins between the sides were perhaps not quite as big as might be presumed from the scorecard. England's opening bowlers, Finn and James Anderson, beat the bat frequently in the early overs and might, with a little bit of luck, have claimed several early wickets.

"Amla had a couple of lives," Finn said. "We could have had either him or Graeme Smith quite early. I thought we bowled well up front and we could have taken a couple of wickets, but it wasn't to be. Amla is obviously in very good form at the moment and people are allowed to play well against us and we have to find a way to counteract that."

As an opening bowler who has played a fair amount of county cricket in recent times, Finn might be expected to have well-informed views about the potential top-order replacement for Strauss in the Test team. While he was reluctant to be drawn on the issue, it was interesting to note the two names he mentioned: Nick Compton, who is enjoying a prolific season for Somerset, and Michael Carberry, who enjoyed a brief taste of Test cricket alongside Finn in 2010.

"There are some excellent guys out there," Finn said. "Nick Compton has had an excellent season, Michael Carberry has played international cricket as an opening batsman in Bangladesh. We made our debut together. So there are definitely guys out there are more than capable of coming in and playing Test cricket."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 31, 2012, 21:01 GMT)

@Meety - You'll be trolling with the best of them soon. Get into the capslock/textspeak dialogue and you're almost there

Posted by perl57 on (August 31, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

Oh! That means England is on destruction path. Strauss rarely got to win outside England and has average rating as captain. By comparing cook to Strauss England is more likely to self destruct. At least do not lose a good batsman.

Posted by KunzMan on (August 31, 2012, 7:11 GMT)

So Cook will be Smith's 4th on the next tour...

Posted by kb_joker on (August 31, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

Trott could be promoted to be the opener. With Cook he could provide a stable opening partership.With Bell, Bairstow, Bopara and Prior they ahve a very good batting lineup.

Posted by Meety on (August 31, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

"...having come through the England system from Under-16 level, he is well-placed to speak about life as part of the England development programme." which is more than can be said for most of the squad! LOL! Apologies, I just could not help myself! == == == On a more serious note, I don't think Finn should be "picking" replacements, like he sort of did in the last paragraph. He is the junior member of the bowling unit, he should worry about becoming a permanent member. He did make a plausible comment about "...the margins between the sides were perhaps not quite as big as might be presumed from the scorecard." (although he didn't actually say that).

Posted by   on (August 30, 2012, 23:45 GMT)

Strauss literally left the test team in shambles. Cook has his work cut out. he needs to find a new opening partner, a stable middle order. And if he wants to do all this before the India tour, then he needs to find batsmen besides himself and Trott who can actually play spin a bit. So, a lot of work for the new skipper.

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