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Break can be good for Finn - Fraser

Alan Gardner

July 29, 2013

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A

Steven Finn began England's fightback by removing Shane Watson, England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 1st day, July 10, 2013
Steven Finn has taken 20 Test wickets at 33.50 in 2013 but was some way below his best at Trent Bridge © Getty Images
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Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, believes that a period away from the scrutiny of international competition can help Steven Finn return to his best form. Fraser said Finn's omission from the squad for the third Investec Ashes Test had not come as a shock, after the fast bowler was dropped at Lord's, and suggested his time would be better served playing for Middlesex than carrying the drinks with England.

Tim Bresnan replaced Finn for the second Test, after the latter produced a faltering performance at Trent Bridge, taking two wickets with the new ball in Australia's first innings but being trusted with only 10 out of 110.5 overs in the second. That ended a run of six consecutive Test appearances for Finn - his longest spell in the team since making his debut in 2010 - as he struggled for rhythm as part of England's three-man pace attack.

The change to a shortened run-up, in an attempt to counter a problem of kneeing the stumps in his delivery stride, was abandoned but Finn's form and confidence appeared to have visibly dipped. In Tests in 2013, Finn has taken 20 wickets at 33.50 and he was also dropped from the ODI side during the Champions Trophy, having been a bulwark of their success last year.

"I know he'll be pretty disappointed. He needs to get some bowling under his belt really," Fraser said. "He's got to bowl better than he has done and the only way you're going to improve is by playing cricket. There's only so much good that net practice can do, you need to get in games where it counts."

Fraser pointed out that Finn has had to hone his game on the international stage, with its attendant pressures and demands. At 24, Fraser had only recently made his England debut; Finn already has 74 caps - and 168 wickets - in three formats for England. "He's a young bloke and he's done all his growing up and his learning, to a large extent, in front of everybody's eyes," Fraser said. "Sometimes it's quite nice to get away from it all, to groove yourself and get it right and come back.

"He's been in the spotlight. Jimmy Anderson had four or five years before he really established himself as an England bowler - Steven has had quite a bit of success early on but it's just not happening for him at the moment. There are a few little things that he's got to work at and careers aren't straightforward. Players get dropped, players get left out, players go through periods where their confidence and their form is not what they want it to be. Players go away, sort it out, come back and perform to their highest level again."

Since the end of May, Finn has made only five competitive appearances - two ODIs, a Test and England's Ashes warm-up against Essex, plus the second half of Middlesex's Championship fixture at Sussex. Rather than continue to keep him on the sidelines, England have chosen to bring Chris Tremlett back into the squad - something that has always been part of their planning - and allow Middlesex to work with Finn.

Fraser doesn't believe Finn's run-up remains an underlying issue, although he suggested the focus on hitting the stumps may have contributed to clouding the bowler's mind. Although Finn trimmed his approach to the crease by a few paces on the tour of New Zealand, he has since returned to using his original mark.

"No, I don't think it is," Fraser said, asked if the run-up was still a problem. "Cricketers tinker, they're always trying different things and some you try and abandon, some you try and keep going. Obviously during the winter they tried this shorter run-up, he wanted to give it a go and it didn't work, didn't feel as good as he would have hoped in the long run so he's gone back to his old run-up.

"I've always been keen on his longer run-up because he's a big lad and it tends to take big men some time to get going, rather than being a short sprinter. He gets up to full speed quite early and can then keep going for the last ten yards and concentrate on letting go of the ball."

An opportunity to relocate his groove in red-ball cricket will come at the end of the week against Durham - who themselves will be augmented by the return of another England discard in Graham Onions - with Middlesex hoping to stoke the flames of their Championship title bid. Progression to next week's FLt20 quarter-finals also remains possible and many beyond Lord's will hope that Finn's return to county cricket can be mutually beneficial.

"We love having him around at Middlesex, he's a good lad," Fraser said. "Hopefully he'll get back to enjoying his cricket and start performing as we know he can."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by subbass on (July 31, 2013, 1:24 GMT)

Also having someone who can bowl that speed can help blast away the tail-enders. Not many can cope with that extra 5-10% in pace. Whenever I have seen him bowling with good pace he looks a class act. Shame we don't have a Kallis type player thus giving us 5 bowlers. Then we could use Finn purely as a strike bowler. Short yet hostile spells is the key I think, his ODI record backs this up. I think he needs to just bowl quick, take care of his fitness and let the rest take care of itself. Because as I said, whenever he has bowled consistently over 90mph/145kph he has looked a class act to me.

He seems to be a tad confused about the type of bowler he wants to be. Finny just bowl quick !

Posted by subbass on (July 31, 2013, 1:17 GMT)

Yep, the comparison with Anderson is a good one. But, for me he did look a better bowler off the shorter run up. Saker was praised for suggesting it. But Gus is probably right, he needs to get his head down and just play some County games and regain his cinfidence. But did anyone else also think he looked a better bowler off the shorter run ? I suppose he has to go with what he i=is comfortable with though. Anyway Finny will come back he has tremendous potential and when we got hammered 5-0 in that ODI series Steve Finn bowled rapid. He was consistently over 92mph on the speed gun and even got up to 95mph at times. He was the only positive to come from that tour. We were comprehensively outplayed, but the Indian batters did not look like they were enjoying facing Finn bowling that quick. Really his ODI record has always been good. We just need to get him bowling consistently well in the longer format, because this lad has the rare ability to bowl very rapid spells with good bounce.

Posted by Jonathan_E on (July 30, 2013, 21:02 GMT)

The trouble with Finn wasn't even that he was leaking too many runs, it was that he was leaking too many runs while not taking enough wickets or even particularly threatening to do so. Getting spanked all round the park by a last wicket pairing in both innings without ever looking like dismissing them is why he was dropped.

It's not the runs per over that matters, it's the runs per wicket. Finn's bowling average against Australia is 36.31. Of his four 5-fors, two were against Bangladesh, and the other two were very expensive (equal figures of 6/125 against Australia and New Zealand).

Somehow he seems to have garnered praise for the recent series in New Zealand - in which he averaged 39.20 with the ball, which is his worst average playing away in any nation except Bangladesh (but he is an absolute destroyer of Bangladeshis in England, 17 wickets at 17.98 - he also has fine figures against NZ and Pakistan in England).

Look at his figures with Bangladesh taken out, it's awful.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (July 30, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

@JG2704 Indeed, there is not a "one size fits all" policy for different bowlers. Each bowler has his role and each one needs to be treated in an individual manner to fulfill it. It is a pragmatic approach.

Back in the Ashes series in Australia in 2010/11 Finn was penetrative, but a little wild at times. He also found playing back-to-back Tests hard work. People tend to forget that the change from Finn to Bresnan was credited by many as being the factor that allowed England to win the series so comfortably as Bresnan tied up the batsmen allowing Anderson and Tremlett to attack.

Posted by oze13 on (July 30, 2013, 8:23 GMT)

Has all the attributes of a fast bowler, speed and bounce. But, bowls far too many short and wide deliveries that are freebies for batsmen. Needs to bowl a lot smarter. As for the problem he had breaking the stumps as he bowled. A schoolboy would be embarrassed by such amateurism!

Posted by JG2704 on (July 30, 2013, 8:22 GMT)

Fraser is a very level headed analyst , but I will say Eng seem to have different policies on different players.

Posted by jb633 on (July 29, 2013, 19:17 GMT)

I think the media, fans and selectors need to remember that Finn is a young man and needs to be treated carefully. Personally I have been disappointed with the way he has been handled. Firstly in the last ashes series he was dropped as the leading wicket taker in the series because he was too expensive. Now is that really the message you want to send a young strike bowler with twice the potential of Bresnan. If we had to play South Africa tomorrow who would you rather watch bowl at Amla and Kallis? Well lets not forget what those guys did to Bresnan and how Finn got wickets against the best players in the world. IMO Bresnan has never proven himself against good sides and Finn is by far the better prospect in the long run. I was disappointed that the selectors in 2010 exposed to the media that they thought he was too expensive. All this does is place more pressure on the young lad. When Bresnan went for 0-200 against SA last year the selectors never revealed he has no pace and no venom.

Posted by salazar555 on (July 29, 2013, 17:19 GMT)

Finn could go on to be a great bowler, he has all the tools, he's very tall so gets bounce and he bowls quick, well over 90mph. That's where the good ends and bad begins, he's raw, he's erratic, he bowls too many four balls. He needs to spend some time working on his line and length and become a more consistent bowler, he needs to be able to dry the runs up even if he's not taking wickets. I'm sure he will be able to do it and when the time comes he will be a great bowler and a England quick for many years.

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