Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 1st day April 3, 2012

England edge attritional day - Finn


Steven Finn has waited a long time to get his place back in England's Test team but he probably wished it was on a nice green-top rather than the parched, slow surface that greeted him in Colombo.

However, despite England's recent problems with the batting there is one thing the last few months have confirmed for certain. The bowling attack does not shirk a challenge. Heads could easily have dropped after Andrew Strauss lost another toss, or as Mahela Jayawardene constructed another hundred, but the discipline they have shown almost without fail was in evidence throughout the day.

"As seamers we are all stupid enough to just run in every time the captain tosses you the ball," Finn said. "It's one of those things, you just have to suck it up and get on with it. I had a bit of cramp come the end of the day but that's part and parcel of fast bowling."

Finn, who last played a Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's, contributed 18 overs and although his figures do not stand out like some of his recent one-day hauls he played an important role in the reshuffled attack which reverted to three quicks, Graeme Swann and the support of Samit Patel's left-arm spin.

Finn highlighted the qualities he can bring to the line-up in a testing burst against Thilan Samaraweera who firstly survived a review for a catch at short leg and was then struck on the helmet when he failed to avoid a well-directed bouncer. It was a blow that shook Samaraweera: "For a few moments I wasn't sure what had happened," he said.

England, though, were convinced they had removed him on 36 when the ball looped to Alastair Cook under the helmet. "I said to Straussy I heard two noises and was pretty sure it was glove then thigh pad," Finn said. "Such is life it didn't get given and we didn't let it affect us. We kept plugging away, the worst thing we could have done is get pent up about the decision."

In the dressing room there was, perhaps, a little less calm response as Andy Flower, the team director, was seen making a quick visit to the umpires' room to clarify the decision. "Andy is passionate about English cricket and winning and I'm sure it wasn't anything out of the ordinary," Finn said. "The downside of not having Hot Spot is there's no conclusive evidence. We just have to get on with it."

England's rewards came late in the day as Sri Lanka lost Mahela Jayawardene moments before the new ball was taken and Prasanna Jayawardene, edging Finn to the wicketkeeper, shortly before the close. When England were not taking wickets, such as during the 124-run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Samaraweera, they did not allow the run-rate to escalate and, unlike in Galle last week, managed to maintain their intensity during the final session.

"The fact they did not really go anywhere, they are 230 off 90 overs, maybe swings it a little bit to our favour," Finn said. "I thought we played some good, attritional cricket and were very patient and we got our rewards towards the back end of the day. Jayawardene played very well and assessed the conditions excellently, but I thought that as a bowling unit we did good all day."

The leader in every sense, though, was James Anderson as he ended the day with 3 for 52 to follow his five-wicket haul in Galle. Finn, who made his Test debut in Bangladesh in 2009-10 in conditions not dissimilar to this during a series where Anderson was rested, was often seen sharing words with his senior team-mate at the end of his run.

"I've learnt a lot off Jimmy since I've come into the team, especially over the last 12 months," Finn said. "He's an exceptional bowler and as a young bowler you can look towards him and how he gets his wickets. He knows how to extract the maximum movement, nip, swing or whatever in any given conditions and to have him talking to me as I'm walking back to my mark helps me get my mindset right. I feel as though I'm learning all the time."

Edited by Alan Gardner

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kieran on April 5, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    @ JG2704, competely agree. Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one a bit confused about people seemingly ignoring the recent form of SA.

  • John on April 4, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    Amazing how a throwaway comment suddenly sparks things between Eng and Oz fans. We all know deep down that by the time Eng and Aus , both Eng and Aus fortunes might have taken turns for the worse or for the better. If Eng win the current test and then the WI series convincingly it could be the springboard to beat SA although we may as well go on holiday when SA are here acc to some knowledgeable guys on these boards - conveniently ignoring SA's series results from the last few years. As for Oz , 4-0 vs India looks great on paper but in reality Ind were as poor in Oz as they were in Eng. They then have a great draw in SA esp after losing the 1st test and then have a disappointing drawn series at home vs NZ. Personally I believe we have a better bowling attack but I'm not going to start dissing Aus bowlers/team/fans. Also funny how on this thread one poster calls Finn a fairy while another insinuates he's a thug. Got to love these balanced views

  • Phil on April 4, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    @zenboomerang: your lot found Anderson's & Bresnan's medium pace rather tricky.

  • Randolph on April 4, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    England are terrible against spin, as they proved when they got rolled for 51 against the mighty spin bowler from the WI, Benn. Finn lives in the shadows of Pattinson and always will. I cannot wait for the next Ashes, England (sic) with the house of cards at the top of the order, a couple of saffers in the middle and this mighty popgun attack below, I wouldn't be booking any tickets past the third day!

  • Roo on April 4, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    @Patchmaster :- "Eng have a faster more versitile attack than AUS could ever dream of these days"... The funniest thing I have read in a long time... Anderson barely gets to 135kph & more often than not is in the 120's... Bresnan just manages medium pace... Broad is no fast bowler either - Finn is the only bowler to match Oz's faster bowlers... Even Watson can get up to the high 130's on a consistent basis... Funny how a pom can bring in an Oz sledge in a SLvEng article... lol...

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    @Patchmaster so according to you England has the best bowling attack in the world. What a joke The oz bowling is much stronger than english bowling attack. You english fans keep talking only about the ashes. Australia failed twice. But recall how many times you have failed. Remember 3-0 in Uae. Remember 5-0 To India in odis.Remember 51 all out.

  • Andrew on April 4, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    @Patchmaster - that's a pretty weak response, why even bother? Thrashings in the last 2 Ashes? You are talking about 2-1 & 3-1 aren't you? I would say 5-0 is a thrashing, or 3 nil, hell if SL win, they could brag about a 2nil thrashing of England. What a joke! As for Haddin - you obviously weren't watching the century he fot at the Gabba. As for Lyon, well he did enough to affect a series win in SL which is better than what Panesar/Swann/Patel have achieved! LOL! I would suggest that rankings that have the #1 side in the world losing to the 6th ranked side, AND staring down the barrell of a series loss to the 5th rank side don't mean much! == == == I can't help but notice that Finn did NOT say that England were FAVOURITES, (sorry Swanny, had to do it)! I would say that it was great for England that they did not let SL get close to 300 off 90 overs, however, it MAY be the case that 2 rpo is hard going, if that be the case the 230+ SL will score may as well be 430+.

  • John on April 4, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    England have bowled well this whole winter, which is good to see after so many people said that they wouldn't be able to outside of helpful English conditions. Obviously the batting is a different story but the bowlers have absolutely done their job. There was a long partnership yesterday but England expected to see some periods like that. Their own second innings at Galle was similar, with Trott and Prior keeping the SL bowlers at bay for some time. Once they went though, SL were able to wrap up the English tail fairly quickly. Here's hoping England can do the same here because Matthews can do some damage and the SL tail have already shown that they can hang around and even score a few. SL could yet make 300 if England aren't careful. Matthews is the key at this stage. Then we see if the England batsmen can finally apply some lessons that they indicated they might have started to learn. There's really no excuse for their not scoring over 300 in their first innings.

  • kieran on April 4, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    @ Patchmaster, I'm not arguing the quality of the Eng attack, but on what planet are they a faster unit than the Aus attack? Only Finn can claim to be fast. As for rankings, who cares? Lyon has only played about 10 matches, Swann is being outbowled by Monty, Siddle is ranked above Broad, Cook is out of the top 10 batsmen while M.Clarke is now equal #1. Eng will be lucky to retain their #1 spot for long and may even fall below Aus after this series. So what do the rankings matter?

  • Jaydeep on April 3, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    @Bilal: thanks for bringing this up, absolutely disgraceful incident. now if only it were javed miandad instead of ajmal, i'm sure he'd have a bit to say to finn. he certainly did to a similarly ridiculously behaved dennis lillee at perth in '81.

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