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January 15, 2014
Steven Finn will fly home from the tour of Australia after the England management conceded that his form and confidence have deserted him to such an extent that he is now not a viable selection option.
Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach, believes he now needs a complete break from cricket for a period of time before trying to get his career back on track.
He was originally named in both the one-day and Twenty20 squads but doubts persisted as to whether he would be able to resurrect his tour. He did not play the opening ODI in Melbourne and the writing was on the wall when he was left out of the Prime Minister's XI match in Canberra.
"Sometimes through your career you go through those ups and downs and his timing is out," Giles said. "That then can affect your confidence and certainly it is not coming out as quickly as he would like either.
"I suppose he has been in this state for at least a couple of months and it hasn't worked. We feel now that it is best to take him out of it. Sometimes you do have to do that, you take guys back. At the moment Steven needs a bit of space in the very short term he probably needs a couple of weeks away from cricket full stop. Steven is not selectable at the moment.'
"The issue for the coaches is to find the root of the problem. Something technical in the chain is out of sync. He has technical issues and the more troublesome they become, the worse the battle. It is going to affect you mentally."
Suggestions that Finn has the yips - the dreaded psychological affliction which prevents somebody from releasing the ball to any normal standard - has been dismissed by Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, as an exaggeration. Fraser simply wants him to rise above the pressure of expectation and rediscover his love for the game.
Nevertheless, Finn's troubles have run deep. When he was named in the Ashes squad Finn was one of the quartet of tall fast bowlers England planned to play a key role in the Test series. Ultimately Finn did not appear in the series and was not really close to selection after a poor warm-up period. His last appearance came in the tour match in Alice Springs when he took 0 for 61.
Fraser urges Finn to fall in love again
He appeared far from comfortable during England's training session two days out from the one-day series starting in Melbourne, resorting to walking through his bowling action alongside Alastair Cook.
This continues a difficult time for Finn, who lost his Test place after the opening match against Australia at Trent Bridge in July although he continued to feature in the T20 and one-day line-ups at the end of the season. In 2012 his problem of knocking the stumps over with his right knee became so regular that a Law was introduced to make it a no-ball and this was subsequently followed by attempts to remodel him onto a shorter run-up which was eventually shelved for a return to his standard approach.
Finn has been named in England's provisional 30-man squad for the World Twenty20, but unless there are significant improvements in the weeks to come when he returns home it is difficult to see him being included for the tournament. The selectors may well decide the best course of action is not to consider him again until he has had a chance to play some county cricket at the start of the new season in April.
England will be desperate that Finn can recover from the setbacks of this tour because, on his day, he remains one of the few English bowlers capable of pushing towards 90mph.
"He can go back and work on the technical things he has got to work on,'' Giles said. We've already had communication with Middlesex and we need to make a plan and get Steven back as quickly as we can.''
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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