Finn raring to go
Steven Finn is eager for a piece of the action again as England continue their quest to win a Test series in India for the first time in almost 28 years.
Finn experienced what it was like to be on the outside looking in at a winning team when, in his absence as he continued his recovery from a thigh strain, England pulled off a famous success in Mumbai.
The fast bowler did not much care for his role of watching on television, nursing mixed feelings while his team-mates beat India by 10 wickets to level the four-match series at 1-1.
Words of encouragement immediately followed, however, from fast bowling coach David Saker - who believes Finn may have the “x-factor” England need to help them make history in the final two Tests, starting at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
The fast bowler duly demonstrated his well-being for the Performance Programme, an hour’s drive away from England’s hotel on the other side of Mumbai last week, taking four wickets in a wide-margin win over a DY Patil Academy XI.
Finn was back in the nets this morning too, and afterwards confirmed he will be ready if England decide to pick him for the third Test.
He admits, for a time, fearing his tour might have been over prematurely after suffering a setback in his recovery between the first and second Tests - but now Finn is raring to go for what would be his 17th cap.
“It was difficult knowing that the lads were there in Mumbai, celebrating a win and being together, and I was on the other side (of the city) watching it on the TV,” he said.
“It was a strange feeling and something I didn’t enjoy missing out on, so I’m definitely keen to get in on the act if that happens this time.”
Saker’s praise has done no harm either, with Finn adding: “It’s definitely encouraging for your bowling coach to be saying that about you.
“I know that when I’ve bowled on the trip so far I have bowled well. I’ve been in good rhythm; I had a good run-out in the EPP game the other day; I feel good.”
He could not have said the same two weeks ago, after failing to prove his fitness in time for the first Test and then having a second scan on his injured right leg - which suggested a more serious strain than had initially been detected.
“I suppose there were a few doubts in my mind, especially after I pulled up before the second Test in pain,” said Finn. “I was frustrated with myself, with my leg obviously.
“There was a time that it crossed my mind that I might be leaving early. Thankfully we’ve got very good medical staff, and I had a little bit of time off - four or five days where I did absolutely nothing - and I haven’t really felt it since.”
Finn managed just four overs in England’s first tour match, against India A back in October, before pulling up in pain as he retrieved a ball in the outfield.
“It was bitterly disappointing,” he said. “I’ve never had that feeling of something popping before. That’s what it felt like. It was alien to me.
“It was scary and very frustrating at the time, knowing I had a good chance of playing in that first Test match. Initially, we were working towards the second Test - but it took another 10 days or so more than we expected.
“The second scan showed a little bit more than the first scan.”
Back to full health, his only concerns now are how to measure up to Saker’s expectations - on a pitch once again likely to favour spin and offer precious little bounce for the seamers.
It is a challenge the 23-year-old is happy to accept, though, at a venue where he bowled so well in both limited-overs formats just over a year ago.
“There is a little bit of pressure, because you’re being used as a strike bowler,” he added. “But you don’t change your plans or the way that you bowl because of that.
“Just because you’re being used as a strike bowler doesn’t mean you start bowling bumpers and yorkers all the time, searching for wickets. You still have to have a degree of patience and use your skills wisely.”