We're prepared for a dogfight, insists Finn
Regardless of the toil that preceded his rewards, Steven Finn marked his first Ashes Test by claiming a career-best 6 for 125, which - as a 21-year-old with just eight months of international experience to his name - is no mean feat whatsoever. In so doing he emulated Bill Voce and John Snow as the only other Englishmen to collect such a haul at the Gabba, but afterwards he remained reassuringly downbeat about his achievement.
As a man who models himself on Glenn McGrath and who has, in Angus Fraser, the perfect role-model for parsimonious seam bowling, Finn was well aware that his economy rate of 3.71 was England's most expensive of the day, and at times during the 307-run stand between Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey he was powerless to restrict the run-flow. Nevertheless, having finally persuaded Hussey to hook to square leg for 195, he ran through the tail with an effectiveness that augurs well for future challenges, as Australia lost their last five wickets for 31 runs.
"I picked up the wickets but I was the least consistent bowler and I'm aware of that," he said. "Jimmy and Broady and Swanny at times bowled fantastically well, and when we work together as a unit that's when we get our wickets. These wickets are for the unit, but personally, there are still a lot of areas I need to improve on and I'm well aware of that. I want to go for less runs, take more wickets and I've got a lot of work to do."
England's day could well have gone a whole lot better, however, had Anderson been rewarded for a fine new-ball spell, in which Hussey survived two lbw appeals on 82 and 85, the first of which was overturned by the Umpire Decision Review System, before the second was left hanging as a plain not-out, after England had unsuccessfully used up their own appeals on day two.
Finn admitted that the situation had been frustrating, especially after believing they had made such a key breakthrough in the third over of the day. But, he added, they had refused to let it derail them, despite how it might have appeared as they ended up going wicketless throughout the first two sessions.
"It was a frustration that wasn't going to affect our performance," he said. "We realised we didn't have any reviews left and so there was nothing we could do about it. We had to keep putting the ball in the right areas. When you're in the huddle there and you think you've got the wicket, you're over the moon and then it gets taken away. But if it gets you emotional then it takes you away from what you want to do and how you want to play the game.
"It's easy to look at things in retrospect, but we have to push forward," he added. "We can only play what's put in front of us. If those decisions had gone our way we'd be in a different position but it's something we can't look at. Those two guys played really well, they didn't give us a chance, they rode their luck and survived the tough times, and that's what it takes to score hundreds like that in Test cricket. That's all we can look at."
Another distraction for England in the past three days has been the health of their coach, Andy Flower, who spent the day in hospital recovering from an operation to remove a cancerous melanoma from under his right eye. Finn, however, insisted that for the squad it had been business as usual, with Richard Halsall, the fielding coach, taking temporary charge.
"I wouldn't say it's an upset," he said. "Obviously we're concerned about Andy, but he's fine, he's pulling through, but it hasn't drawn anything away from what we've been doing as a team. We've got highly capable back-room staff who are filling in, and we've gelled together as a unit, and that helps us through times like this."
Despite the team's predicament, Finn was sure that the two sides were far more evenly matched than the state of the game would suggest. "I think Test cricket ebbs and flows," he said. "That's the nature of the game and to say there is a gulf in class is grossly wrong because I think we've played some good, hard cricket these past few days. Australia are on top at the moment but the nature of the way we've played our cricket over the past 18 months will stand us in good stead in that dogfight."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.