Root impressed with Finn fitness
Steven Finn will be ready and able if England need him in the third Test against India, according to expert eyewitness Joe Root.
Root saw Finn bowl at close quarters in the England Performance Programme’s victory over a DY Patil Academy XI this week, and it did not take long for him to sense the fast bowler is back to his best.
England had to consider the possibility of having to send Finn home early from this tour after he suffered a thigh strain on the first morning of the opening warm-up match back in October.
But with two scans indicating the injury was not too severe, they persevered with his rehabilitation in the hope he might after all become available.
So it has proved, and Finn’s return to fitness could yet be a key factor too as he vies for a place in next week’s third Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Root, who missed out on a Test debut to Nick Compton at the start of this tour but knows he is still only one injury away from a call-up, played instead for the EPP - and duly scored a 166 in an innings win. He also saw saw Finn take 4-50 in 16 overs on day one of three at Mumbai.
“He bowled fantastically well, and got some wickets and good overs under his belt,” said the Yorkshireman. “I think he’s pretty happy with where he’s at now, and it will be interesting to see how things go over the next three days in training.”
Asked specifically if Finn will be ready to return to the Test team this week, Root replied: “I’d like to think so. He’s got three big training days coming up, so I’m sure he’ll find out (if he is needed) in due course.”
Should Finn be back for what would be his 17th Test, he will join a team Root describes as being “on a massive high” after their spinners dominated India in a 10-wicket win at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.
He insists confidence has never wavered from the outset, and that they could overturn 27 years of history since England’s last series win in India.
“There was [that feeling] at the start of the tour,” he added. “To get a win now is brilliant, and it’s a really exciting match coming up this week.”
England’s feelgood factor continues to take hold, and Ian Bell’s return after the birth of his first child between the first and second Tests means they are back to full strength.
Root, meanwhile, must simply make sure he is ready just in case any misfortune should befall either Compton or even captain Alastair Cook.
“Everyone needs time in the middle, especially when you’ve not been playing,” he said.
“It’s just to have the confidence that, if something does go wrong, if someone does go down, I’ve got a weight of runs behind me to stand me in good stead.
“I’ll just be doing everything I can in the nets, working with all the coaches to try to improve my game and take as much from the tour as possible - but also to make sure if required I’m ready to go.”
Whether Root gets his first taste of Test cricket here or not, though, he is already savouring the learning experience of touring India.
“It’s been fantastic; just to get the opportunity to work with those guys is really beneficial,” he added. “I’m just trying to learn as much as possible, and take as much from the tour as I can.
“You get exposed to these conditions, and it’s just great to have to adapt and try to get what you can here - and keep it on board, if required later on in the series. You’ve just got to make sure you’re absolutely ready if an opportunity arises.”
Root has come under the tutelage of former England batsman Graham Thorpe, here in the past week and of course previously with the EPP.
Batting coach Thorpe remains one of England’s all-time best players of spin, and accumulators of runs in the sub-continent especially.
“He’s got a fantastic record, and to speak to someone as successful as he was is great,” said Root.
“You can see that with the guys at the EPP - who are all really improving and enjoying the experience out here and, we hope, becoming better players for it.
“I think now, young lads coming through with DRS and everything, there might be a slightly different approach to how you go about playing spin.
“It’s just getting your head round that really. Everyone’s got their own way of playing spin, and it’s just finding out what works best for you to score as many runs as possible.”