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By Julian Guyer
MANCHESTER: Aug 6, 2014
Whether Steven Finn plays in the fourth Test against India at Old Trafford on Thursday remains to be seen, but the fact he is back in the England squad represents a minor triumph for the Middlesex fast bowler.
The 6ft 7in quick has taken 90 wickets in 23 Tests at an average of under 30 but hasn’t played in the five-day format since last year’s Ashes opener against Australia at Trent Bridge.
Although included in England’s squad for the subsequent Ashes tour of Australia, Finn didn’t play a single international match and was sent home early after being deemed “unselectable” by then one-day coach Ashley Giles after ‘losing’ his action.
But remedial work under the guidance of Middlesex boss Angus Fraser, the former England seamer who has since joined the national selection panel, has revived Finn’s career to the extent the 25-year-old has now taken 44 first-class wickets at 29.72 so far this season.
An injury to Liam Plunkett led to Finn being called into England’s squad for the fourth Test, with the five-match series all square at 1-1. Now there is a chance Finn will make the final XI even though that would mean England changing a winning side after their 266-run series-levelling success in Southampton — their first victory in 11 Tests.
“It’s just great for English cricket that Finny is getting back to his best,” England captain Alastair Cook said on Wednesday. “He’s very different to what we have got: he’s a tall bowler who when he gets it right bowls at near 90mph. It’s obviously been a very tough six months for him personally, so to fight through it I think he’ll be a stronger bloke for it and it will bode well for his cricket,” he added.
Someone whose position in the England team is certain is James Anderson. Judicial commissioner Gordon Lewis last week cleared the England paceman of breaching the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct after he clashed with Ravindra Jadeja during the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge amid allegations he had pushed and abused the India all-rounder. The ICC confirmed Wednesday it would be taking no further action, leaving Anderson free to play at Old Trafford — his Lancashire home ground.
While Cook and India counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni had wildly differing views on Anderson’s fondness for verbal abuse, the two captains were united in their admiration for the skill that has left him just 12 shy of equalling Ian Botham’s England record of 383 Test wickets.
“He is the best English bowler I have seen by quite a considerable margin,” said Cook. He’s not blessed with absolutely express pace so to be able to control that ball and find a method like in Australia in 2010 where it didn’t swing that much but he took his wickets under 30, using that wobble ball…he has been outstanding,” he added.
Dhoni believes, “When we (India) came here in 2007 he didn’t have much control over his in-swinger. But now he is a different bowler and uses the in-swinger as his strength. So overall he is a terrific bowler.”
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