England in India 2012-13 October 25, 2012

England have point to prove - Finn


Steven Finn has said that England will head to India in search of a fresh start and eager to restate their credentials as one of the best Test sides in the world, after a difficult year in which they lost the No. 1 ranking, their captain and very nearly their star batsman.

A 2-0 defeat at home to South Africa led to England being deposed as the top-ranked team in Tests and precipitated Andrew Strauss' retirement from cricket, leaving Alastair Cook to assume the Test captaincy ahead of one of the most difficult touring propositions in the game. Finn is likely to be among those spending almost two months in India, with two T20Is to follow the Tests, as the squad departed for a training camp in Dubai before arriving in Mumbai on Monday.

England have not won a Test series in India since 1984-85 and struggled against subcontinental opposition last winter, being whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in the UAE and drawing 1-1 in Sri Lanka. England's victory in Colombo was only their fifth Test win in Asia, against countries other than Bangladesh, in 27 years but Finn said Cook's squad have a point to prove and invoked their landmark Ashes victory of 2010-11 by way of inspiration.

"It is almost a fresh start for us," Finn said, "the Test team hasn't played together since August so we've had a bit of time and we've got a new captain who will have his own ideas how he wants the team to move forward. There are a few fresh faces in the squad and I think we like proving people wrong. We like rearing our backs up in the face of adversity.

"It is something we're excited about, I don't think an England team have won out there for 27 years so we're looking to do a similar thing to what we did in Australia, by breaking those sort of records."

The tour is likely to provide Cook with plenty of challenges, not least brokering a successful return to the England environment for Kevin Pietersen, after a turbulent summer in which he retired from limited-overs internationals and was then dropped from the Test side after admitting sending messages about Strauss to members of the South Africa squad. The circle will be completed when Pietersen joins up with England, after his IPL team, Delhi Daredevils, were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage.

England have set much store by team unity in recent years but Finn said that he was looking forward to playing with Pietersen again. "He is a world class player and has produced some splendid innings that have won us games so I think it's great to have him back and good for English cricket," he said.

England's last win on the subcontinent, against Sri Lanka in April, was inspired by Pietersen's magnificent innings of 151 and knitting him back into the fabric of the team would appear to be essential to the tourists' chances in the four-Test series. While India will be seeking to avenge the 4-0 whitewashing they suffered in 2011, England also have plenty at stake.

"We have a massive point to prove," Finn said. "We have to prove to the general public, to the people who comment on the game and to people within the game. If we want to be the number one side in the world again and get that mantle back we have to be able to perform in subcontinental conditions.

"We have done a lot of work since we played Pakistan earlier this year, as a unit and as a team, developing skills that we will need in the subcontinent - playing against spin, using old balls on wickets that aren't doing much. We have done a lot of work to refine our game to become better in the subcontinent and hopefully that will bear fruit on this tour."

With England's problems against slow bowling in mind, four county spinners, in addition to squad members Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Samit Patel, will link up with the players in Dubai. James Tredwell, Scott Borthwick, Simon Kerrigan and Azeem Rafiq have been flown out to try and replicate the kind of tests the batsmen are likely to face in India, despite the lack of a spinner in the squad named for England's first warm-up match.

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test match cricket in England. Visit the Investec Cricket Zone at investec.co.uk/cricket for player analysis, stats, Test match info and games

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on October 28, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    @Pratik Behera on (October 27 2012, 06:52 AM GMT) Yeah or the women's team

  • Dummy4 on October 27, 2012, 17:31 GMT


  • Ashok on October 27, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    @A-Vacant-Slip: You are specific about England's injuries - Trott & Tremlett- but not so about injuries to the Indian players- "Sehwag & someone else"- because you are unaware! Before you attack my credibility, you should check the stats. Sir!. There were no less than 10 Indian players injured on that tour. Some were forced to play because substitutes were not available. The substitute players could not be sent immediately due to long time in procuring Visas for the players. In the very first Test Zaheer was injured after taking the first 3 Wkts. & he was considered the main bowler for India. Similar fate hit P.Kumar who bowled brilliantly in the following test & took 5 wkts. Yuvraj broke his thumb.Sehwag returned with shoulder injury. Harbhajan with Quad. injury. Gambhir with concussion. Tendulkar recovering from injuries played for a while & withdrew later. I.Sharma, R.Sharma were next 2. If England lose just 4- KP, Bell, Broad, Swann - series will turn topsy turvy.

  • Prabhu on October 27, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @jb633 - I would go with 3 pacers + Swann + Samit Patel for the simple reason that in my humble view Patel is a better bat than Bresnan against spin(see odi series last year against India in India). So playing 4 pacers would mean playing Prior at 6 and exposing Bresnan at 7 which I think is one spot too high for him. Ideally if Patel bowled left arm spin like Monty or if Monty batted as competently as Samit that would have been perfect but you have what you have. So in summary I like your line up with Samit at 6 and 3 pacers - frankly if 3 pacers and Swann don't cause India problems I doubt the 4th pacer would be of any use! On the series I think A'bad test first day will be key

  • Shakhawat on October 27, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    England is very favourite this series. I think India will be jolted due to abscence of VVS and Dravid, on the otherhand Tendulakar, Gambhir, Zaheer in inform. Comparing English batsman are in good form and have a good attacking bowling combination

  • John on October 27, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @phoenixsteve on (October 26 2012, 05:26 AM GMT) Re "The stars have gone" - Kohli is an exceptional young talent and to be fair they possibly have other top players who we are unfamiliar with. Also Ajmal wasn't much cop when he toured England and was a totally different animal in UAE and who knew much about guys like Rehman and Herath?

  • John on October 27, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @rickyvoncanterbury on (October 26 2012, 12:01 PM GMT) Oh yes - SA are definitely beatable. Until England they hadn't won a series vs a top 4 side for several years. Having said that they hadn't lost a series home or away for several years. We'll see if they are as good now that they are the hunted and not the hunters. Re , my post - sometimes I wonder why I bother. Cheers

  • John on October 27, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @Wynand80 on (October 26 2012, 13:08 PM GMT) England players never claimed they were an all time great side. The media might have hyped them up and some players might have said they wanted to be looked on in similar terms as Aus (90s/00s) and WI (80s) and that when directly asked a question. By naming the benchmarks ,it's not saying you're already there is it? I never heard one player say they could have beaten either of these sides. Eng have been awful against spin - no one'sdenying that. Re Bell opening - India could open with spin against him to make it uncomfortable for him

  • John on October 27, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @jb633 on (October 26 2012, 13:03 PM GMT) Re your side , I can see reasons for most of the selections and as you know I'm a huge fan of the 5/1/5. However I wouldn't open with Bell but bizarrely I might try KP up there. The one selection of yours which really baffles me is Morgan. He was woeful in UAE and even before UAE wasn't exactly milking the runs in test cricket and since UAE , I've not noticed him do alot at county level and he's even been inconsistent in the shorter fmts. If I wanted an aggressive number 5 it'd be Bairstow. I'd also like to somehow squeeze Onions in my side depending on conditions. PS not sure if Morgan is still in the squad

  • John on October 27, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @sobersfan on (October 27 2012, 06:18 AM GMT) Agree on our batting being weak but re our bowling , it wasn't great in the 1st test in UAE or the 1st test vs SA but by and large we've bowled well in tests home and abroad . The innings defeats and thrashings your boys suffered , albeit away suggest your batting isn't quite as great as you make out. PS please read my post (October 26 2012, 09:23 AM GMT)

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