<
>

Attack was our World Cup plan - Finn

Steven Finn suffered more than any England bowler at the World Cup but he, like the team, has shown a remarkable turn of form in the ODI series against New Zealand, which heads to the final match on Saturday level at 2-2. England's style of play compared to the World Cup could not be more of a contrast but Finn insisted the aggressive mindset so effective in this series was the plan for that tournament too.

The removal of Peter Moores as coach has been highlighted as the primary cause of England's change of attitude but Finn insisted Moores was also trying to instill the type of cricket they have produced in this series.

"We talked about what we wanted to do in the World Cup," Finn said. "We sat in front of the media and said we wanted to play with freedom and smiles on our faces. We didn't do it. I've been involved in both series and I can't put my finger on why but it seems there has been a huge change in attitude here.

"There's been some personnel changes and those guys have come in and done really well. Everyone is playing with a smile on their face. Even when we walked off the field after going for 350, we felt as though we were in the game. When you are 100 for 0 off 11 overs, everyone is sitting there in the dressing room and there's a real camaraderie with the guys that I've rarely experienced in a dressing room before. It is really exciting."

All the credit for England's turnaround has gone to their batsmen but Finn has played a crucial, and largely unheralded, role in the series, staging his own comeback having been their most expensive bowler at the World Cup, and then left out of the tour to West Indies. Finn is the joint-top wicket-taker in the series and is the most economical of those to have played in three or more matches, conceding 5.67-an-over, which before this series would have been considered expensive. Finn recognised how much the game has changed.

"It is about accepting that the game has changed. [Brendon] McCullum hit me over wide long-off for six and I thought, 'that was probably hitting the top of off stump'. So you have to walk back and think, 'fair play, that was a good shot'. It's that sort of attitude that bowlers are having to take into games.

"It's like playing a long Twenty20. You almost have to accept that you're going to be hit for boundaries, you have to accept that people will play good shots. It's just trying to make sure they are playing good shots to get their boundaries and they are not hitting bad balls. It has changed big time since the World Cup. To come into this series and for there to be scores regularly of around 350, as a bowler you have to change your mindset and go about things slightly differently.

"It's been tricky so far but it's been really exciting. We have a good, young, very talented group of players at the moment. We've talked a lot about playing with a carefree attitude and playing with freedom - we talked a lot about it in the winter but never did it - so it's great that four games in a row now, win or lose, we've played with that attitude. It has stood us in good stead so far."

Finn might have feared his England career was over when left out of the West Indies tour but he has staged a second return to international cricket, following his initial resurgence having been dubbed "unselectable" during the Ashes tour of 2013-14.

"When I came back from that Australia tour, we stripped everything back and went right back to basics," Finn said. "It's been a case of grooving that over the last 18 months. To be now feeling in control of what I'm doing when I'm at the end of my mark is a nice feeling and something I want to keep doing. I learned a lot about my bowling and my action in that time and I feel as though I have a really good understanding of it now. I don't feel as though I've ever bowled this consistent in terms of where I'm bowling it. I'd love to get that high-end pace back 100 per cent all the time that I had when I was taking wickets a lot a few years ago. That's something I'm working towards but I'm happy where I am at the moment.

"My mantra is very much to keep it as simple as I can. When I've done alright in T20s and one-dayers, it is about keeping it as simple as you can. If you're clouded at the end of your mark or clouded when you're running up, that generally leads to you bowling a poor ball. So it is about having a clear plan and saying, 'if you hit me while I'm bowling to this plan, then you've got the better of me and are too good for me today'. It's about finding plans for each batsman and you try not to bowl to their strengths."

Finn was named in the 14-man training squad that will travel to Spain ahead of the Ashes and now has his sights set on a return to the Test arena.

"Well my last Test match was in the last Ashes over here nearly two years ago. I'd love to be involved. I'm going to have to keep bowling well and taking wickets for Middlesex. I dream and hope and wish I can play in this Ashes series but I can't change what I'm doing in order to do that. I can just keep plugging away, keep trying to get better, keep feeling that rhythm, keep feeling as if I'm getting better. If that gets me in the Ashes squad, then great."