Finn prepared for a long wait
Steven Finn knows he faces a tough fight to regain his Test spot after losing his place during the Ashes and watching a host of quick bowlers stake a claim for selection as England's pace stocks swelled. Finn began the series against Australia as a first-choice option in the four-man attack alongside James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann but was dropped after the third Test in Perth.
Despite taking 14 wickets, including a career-best 6 for 125 at the Gabba, Finn conceded 4.30 runs an over which left Andrew Strauss short of control. Tim Bresnan was recalled for the Melbourne Test and played a key role there and in Sydney as England took the series 3-1.
With Chris Tremlett having also returned to the Test team with impressive results, Broad to slot back in after injury ended his Ashes after two matches, Ajmal Shahzad also pushing for a spot and a clutch of young quicks in the wings, Finn realises he'll have to work hard for a recall.
"I don't think anyone has ever gone through international cricket without being dropped or left out of a team so hopefully it's something that will benefit me in the long run," Finn told ESPNcricinfo. "If it takes me a year or two to get back into the international team then so be it, but I'd back myself to be a better bowler when I get into the team.
"I'm not looking too far ahead, I'm just trying to be a key player for Middlesex and then see where that gets me," he said. "I'm not going to say I want to take millions of wickets early season and get picked in the Test squad, I just want to perform consistently and put my name into the hat."
However, although Finn didn't complete the Ashes series, he still played a key part during the early battles especially in Brisbane and Adelaide. By bursting through Australia's lower order at the Gabba he gave England a timely boost, having watched Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin add 307, and from there the visitors began the fightback which saw them reach a record-breaking 517 for 1 to save the Test.
Then, in Adelaide, with Broad unable to bowl on the final day due to the abdominal injury that ended his series, Finn extracted some extra bounce from a flat surface which resulted in Hussey splicing a pull to midwicket to ensure England would have time to beat the weather and take a 1-0 series lead.
"To take 14 Ashes wickets in three Tests was a great feeling but I'm well aware that I went for too many runs and it's the reason I got left out of the team," Finn said in an honest assessment. "It's important that I learn from what I did wrong in the Ashes series and make myself a better player.
"They were an amazing five or six weeks, having never seen an England team win in Australia and hear about how much of a formidable place it is, to win was amazing but that's been and gone now. It's important we don't look back in the past. Yes, we won the Ashes this winter and it was amazing, but there's going to be a lot hard work now that will make me a better cricketer."
Finn, though, has time on his side. It's his 22nd birthday on Monday and he has already shown potential to be a fine Test bowler with a long career ahead of him despite the disappointment of losing his spot during the winter. Having been a surprise selection in Bangladesh last winter, he went onto play his 11 Tests consecutively and a strong start in the County Championship will keep the selectors interested.
"I've benefited from spending time around the international set up, and to have played 11 Tests before my 22nd birthday, I feel very privileged to have done that," he said. "Only time will tell if I've learnt from my mistakes on the pitch, but mentally I've learnt from them and hopefully I can become a better player for it."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo