New Zealand v England, 3rd T20, Wellington February 14, 2013

Finn confident over stumps problem

ESPNcricinfo staff

Steven Finn is confident that he is getting close to solving the problems in his delivery stride which can lead to the costly impact of his knee against the non-striker's stumps.

Finn has been denied two international wickets in such circumstances, with the delivery being called dead-ball - when he had Graeme Smith caught at slip at Headingley last year and Suresh Raina edging to the same position during the one-day series in January.

The ruling now is that Finn gets one warning per series and after that the delivery will be called dead-ball by the umpires. Finn is at that point in the Twenty20 series against New Zealand, having knocked the stumps in the opening match in Auckland, and continues to focus on the issue with England's bowling coach David Saker during training sessions.

"It's getting there, getting better ... and it'll be gone soon," he said. "It's not something that can preoccupy my mind in the game, because I can't allow it to. But every day in training I'm working hard on trying to eradicate it.

"I have been for the last four months. It's something that's obviously going to have to improve, and it is. I'm trying different things, and out in the game it's not happening as frequently as it used to. So I hope there will be a stage where it's completely eradicated."

There have been various theories put forward as to the best way for Finn to avoid the problem, including changing the angle of his run-up to shorten his approach to the crease or jumping wider in delivery. While any of these may not appear drastic, it is difficult for a bowler, so ingrained in an action they have used for years, to make changes, especially when the next match is just around the corner.

"I've got the marker, where I jump from, and I'm trying to jump in a straighter line," he said. "But the amount of cricket we play, I haven't had too much time to actually go away and spend a lot of time working on it.

"You let it occupy your mind in practice. But when you're out there on the field, there's only one thing that matters - and that's getting the person out at the other end. When I'm out there in the middle, it's not in my mind at all."

There has been mixed reaction from New Zealand to Finn's habit although there appears to be a consensus that the only time the ball should not count is when a wicket falls. They first encountered it during the World Twenty20, where Finn was Man of the Match in the Super Eight contest, and Ross Taylor, who was then the New Zealand captain, said "it's a rule for one person". In that match, New Zealand were denied runs on more than one occasion by Finn breaking the stumps and a dead-ball being called.

During this series Ian Butler, the New Zealand seamer, has said that the fact Finn disturbing the stumps would not distract the batsman at the other end. The current captain, Brendon McCullum, suggested that it can be slightly off-putting, however.

"The rule has been laid down. I'm sure it will continue to be assessed as we go along," he said. "It can be slightly distracting. It's not ideal - and I'm sure, knowing Finny, he is trying to improve that aspect of his performance."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rod on February 15, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    It must be so difficult to bowl without running into the stumps! Can he even manage to walk in a straight line? I can't bear to think what his driving is like! Life is just so complex. The whole thing is just pathetic!

  • Arun on February 15, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Do the basics right before competing. No more debates on this. Until he corrects himself, the ball should be called a no-ball!

  • Harmon on February 15, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Some of the arguments being made here are partially correct but miss the point. I agree that the rule should be for everyone but I don't think ICC came up with that dead-ball rule ONLY for Finn. I think it applicable for anyone who breaks the stumps. Finn gets hurt the most cos he does it most often. I don't think there currently is anyone else who does this. Pollock's example is out-of-scope now. He may or may not have been called then but it doesn't matter now. NOW is NOW. And truth to be told, how is Finn actually getting hurt anyways? If he balls a front foot no ball and the batsman hits it for a 4 or 6, does it not count? And remember it was called a no ball cos the umpire thought Finn tried to go too close to the batsman to bowl that ball. If the batsman could hit it for 4 or 6 it was good on his part but the no ball still stands. A similar argument can be made for Finn hitting the stumps. Distraction was def there - but if some runs are scored they were in spite of it.

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Many had been persistently asking for it to be called a no-ball. What is preventing in accepting that suggestion.

  • John on February 15, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    @Fast_Track_Bully on (February 15, 2013, 6:56 GMT), um, you seem to be forgetting the fact that a bowler bending his arm beyond 15 degrees is breaking the rules while a bowler breaking the stumps is not. You also seem to be forgetting that umpires can no longer call a no-ball during play and the legality of a bowlers action is no longer determined on the field of play.

  • John on February 15, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    @MightyHammer on (February 15, 2013, 12:00 GMT), we are in agreement. Finn breaks the stumps more often than other bowlers, maybe any other bowler, but he's certainly not the only one. I agree that the ICC needs to act and come up with a clear ruling. Either it's a dead ball or no-ball every time any bowler does it or it's only a dead ball if the batsmen is indeed distracted and indicates so by pulling out. For the umpires to come up with this ad hoc approach for one specific bowler seems like a knee-jerk reaction and it has hurt both England and their opposition at different times.

  • Dave on February 15, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    There have been many bowlers over the years who have done this - some very, very good bowlers in fact (I'm thinking of the like of Shaun Pollock). He used the break the stumps reasonably often with his hand. NEVER once was the ball called dead. Why not? Because it doesn't put off the batsman at all. This whole situation has been created by South Africa being scared of him and trying to put him off and it has now spilled over.

    There cannot be a rule that exists for one person only - and to my knowledge no other bowler is only add to break the stumps once per series. The ICC either have to create an actual rule that exists for all players or forget about the dead ball thing. They cannot be allowed to continue down this discretionary path (especially since it's ridiculous anyway - what happens if a player is dismissed the first it happens - he has to go having not been "put off" but when the next player crashes a four the runs don't count because he was not "put off". It's a farce!

  • John on February 15, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    @SameOld on (February 15, 2013, 1:48 GMT), NZ can thank SA and particularly Graeme Smith for that. I believe Australia had a hand in it too, but it wasn't England's doing. A small number of batsmen have claimed that they are distracted by the stumps being broken and the umpires have decided to apply a blanket policy on the assumption that everyone will be distracted. If the NZ batsmen don't believe that they would be distracted then they should have told the umpires before the game. As for being denied free hits, that's going a bit far. Only a front-foot no-ball produces a free hit at the moment anyway so there's no specific reason to believe that, even if the rule was changed to make this a no-ball, it would result in a free hit. People have likened it to crossing the return crease with the back foot and that's not a fee hit, so this almost certainly wouldn't either.

  • Manesh on February 15, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    ICC should warn Finn and may be suspend him for few matches. Remember, if a bowler being called NO-BALL based on his bend of arm, he will not be allowed to bowl until he rectifies it. The same must be applicable here too.