January 2014: Rock bottom

Even as the England team fell apart during the 2013-14 Ashes series, Steven Finn - a fast bowler with nearly 100 Test wickets to his name - did not come close to forcing his way into the team. He had lost his Test place during the previous series, following the Trent Bridge Test, although his slide really gathered pace in Australia. Shortly after the Test matches ended, Finn could be seen bowling in a vacant net at the MCG from a standing start. A few days later it was announced he would leave the tour, the phrase 'unselectable' became the buzzword after a press conference given by the one-day coach Ashley Giles. It was a decision taken with Finn's best interests at heart and Giles' comments needed to be viewed in their full context.

Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, who the following month would become an England selector said: "Steven just needs to love bowling for the sake of bowling again - not to win selection for the next ODI or the first Test of the summer. We'll work with England to get him back playing cricket and enjoying himself."

March 2014: The first steps

After some time away following his return from Australia, Finn returned to pre-season training with Middlesex where he started working alongside the county's bowling coach, Richard Johnson, in a rebuilding process that included stripping his action right back and starting again. Towards the end of March he had his first bowl in the middle for four months.

Fraser, who by now was an England selector, denied any rifts between Middlesex and the national set-up over the treatment of Finn, who had been persuaded to try a shortened run-up the previous year following the problems he had kicking the stumps in delivery stride. "There has been no battle or anything like that. Everybody involved takes responsibility. Everybody has been trying to help him but it's not an exact science and you don't get it right all the time," Fraser said. "He is still an outstanding bowler who has struggled for a period of time. We are confident he will get back but it's not about pressing a button."

April 2014: Early promise

Finn returned to first-class cricket for Middlesex's opening Championship game of the English season and provided instant encouragement as he bagged 6 for 80. His captain in that match was Chris Rogers, who he had bowled against in his last Test outing, against Australia at Trent Bridge, and would subsequently face on his Test comeback two years later.

"For me he would be in the best England team but he's still only operating at 60-70% of what he is capable of," Rogers said at the time. "He showed a huge amount of character to come back and take six wickets. He needs to keep producing these sorts of performances, but I think he's heading in the right direction."

Nine wickets followed in the next Championship game against Nottinghamshire, plus eight more against Yorkshire, and after five matches he was the leading wicket-taker in the country with 29 scalps although there was the much-reported moment when he broke down in the Edgbaston dressing room.

Midway through the season, Finn said: "Now that I've actually been able to spend six months quality time with just Johnno working with me it's helped me move in the right direction much quicker than I have done over the last few years. Now - and I certainly feel like it and I hope it looks like it - I'm starting to get back to bowling naturally and how it was when I was younger. I think that I'd be ready if I was to get the call to play in a one-day international or a Test match."

August 2014: Back in an England shirt

Finn was called into the Test squad in August 2014 against India when Liam Plunkett picked up an ankle problem but was not brought back into the side. He played two one-day games for England Lions, conceding runs at well over six-an-over but collected five wickets. He was recalled to the full side to face India, playing three ODIs and a T20 with mixed success, but was a notable retention when England named their new batch of central contracts in September - a clear indication that the selectors were confident of his long-term position in the international fold.

November 2014: The senior man

James Anderson was rested and Stuart Broad injured for the one-day tour of Sri Lanka, meaning Finn became a senior figure in an inexperienced pace attack. Early on in the tour he said: "Everyone goes through tricky times in their career. I don't think there's a player ever who hasn't gone through a tricky time and I think you learn a lot about yourself. I was in a bad place at the time. I'm in a good place now. I don't really want to dwell on the past, I want to look to the future."

He played five of the seven matches, claiming just five wickets, and there were still question marks as he prepared to head back to Australia for the triangular series which preceded the World Cup.

January 2015: Return down under

Almost a year to the day since he left the Australia tour in Brisbane, Finn made a triumphant return to the Gabba (although it may have been a close-run selection if Chris Jordan had not fallen ill) and claimed 5 for 33 to help bowl India out for 153.

"A lot has happened in last 12 months, and it's probably pretty much to the day where I went home from that tour of Australia," he said. "That corner has been turned. I felt like I turned it a while ago. All that stuff is in the past now, and I am just really looking forward. To take five wickets today was very pleasing for me after the work I have put in. I don't want to look back now, I just want to look forward."

April 2015: West Indies setback

It probably is not a statistic Finn will put on pedestal, but he finished England's dismal World Cup as their leading wicket-taker - which included a hat-trick when Australia were slogging at the MCG. However, he was most remembered for being shredded by Brendon McCullum in Wellington where his two overs went for 49.

Finn reacted with a strong degree of frustration to missing out on the Test series in West Indies, defending himself forcefully against claims he had lost pace. "If you're taking wickets why does it matter if you bowl 87mph or 93? That to me is baffling and I find it stupid," he said.

"I had a good sulk on me for about four days after I was told I wasn't in the Test squad. I thought I might be in with a shout…I've been told I've been doing nothing wrong but to be left out of the tour obviously I am doing something wrong. The selectors have just told me to go and take wickets and enjoy bowling for Middlesex and I'm very much in their thoughts."

May 2015: Conquering Brendon

England had run up their first 400-plus total in an ODI, against New Zealand at Edgbaston, when Finn began the bowling reply to Brendon McCullum who immediately clobbered two boundaries. "I thought 'sheesh, here we go again'", Finn would later say. This time, though, the outcome was very different when McCullum missed a wild mow and lost his off stump. In a series dominated by the batsmen, Finn had impressive returns as he took eights at an economy rate of just a shade over six.

July 2015: The ultimate recall

Finn was included for the pre-Ashes training camp in Spain and then in the squad for the first Test, although as expected he did not make the starting XI. When asked, before the series, what the biggest change had been he said, with a smile: "I'm selectable again." When Mark Wood was ruled out of the third Test, Finn's chance had come and he took it with both hands. Six balls into his Ashes, he had Steven Smith caught at slip. Three days later he was Man of the Match.

"There have been dark times along the way," he said. "But it makes those good times all the more satisfying."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo