Finn ready to reap rewards
Steven Finn is hoping a month in New Zealand can prove time well spent, on his arrival in the United Arab Emirates.
Finn knows that, despite impressing during the unsuccessful limited-overs tour of India in October, he is down the pecking order among his country’s Test pacemen.
The 22-year-old may have to leapfrog Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett, to join Stuart Broad and James Anderson in a three-man seam contingent for three Tests against Pakistan this month and next.
Bresnan appears unlikely to play in England’s first warm-up match against an ICC Affiliate and Associate XI from Saturday, having suffered minor discomfort at nets yesterday following surgery on his right elbow a month ago.
Bresnan did not train with his team-mates today and was instead prescribed rest. A team spokesman said: “He is unlikely to play in the first tour match. But there is no great concern about it at this stage.”
Finn, who made way for Bresnan after three of last winter’s five Ashes Tests, admitted his frustration at losing his Test place; his only five-day game last year coming versus Sri Lanka at Lord’s.
“It is (frustrating),” he said. “I want to play every game of cricket that is available for England. But I have to wait; I have to bide my time.”
“I’m lucky that time’s on my side - I’m only 22 years old. But all I can do is work as hard as I can in practice, go over to New Zealand and try and get some good rhythm over there and bring it over here.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges of the next however many months, and as long as I’m in and around the set-up and always learning off people I’m only going to get better.
“Patience is very important in cricket - batting, bowling, everything - and waiting to get into the team is another example.”
Finn, who flew from Kolkata after England’s Twenty20 win over India to play four matches for Otago Volts before Christmas, is confident he has done and will continue to do all he can to get back into the team.
“It was a nice month to go and hone everything I’d worked on in India and the previous season, and a great opportunity for me to go and just play some cricket for a month,” he said of his trip to New Zealand.
“It was a great experience for me, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from it.”
Conditions in New Zealand could hardly be described as akin to those in Asia. But Finn, speaking before the second net practice of England’s eight-week tour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, reported there were more similarities than might be expected.
“The wickets were quite slow and low, so it was good to go and get some practice on those sorts of wickets,” he added.
“It was just a good chance for me to go and do a lot of bowling. I bowled 140 overs in the four games. It was something I really wanted to do personally, and the satisfaction I got from going over there was great.”
Finn impressed many with his increased pace in England’s 5-0 whitewash at the hands of India, and in the T20 victory which followed. But he is not about to overstate a rate of progress which will surely soon put pressure on England’s pace incumbents.
“On a personal note, it went okay,” he said. “The ball came out nicely, but I still didn’t set the world alight.
“From a team point of view, obviously it was disappointing - which took the edge off it a little bit.”
Finn is more concerned with what he can do in the present, and future, than the hint of world class he has shown in the recent past.
“To have the opportunity now to maybe play in one of these two warm-up matches and try to push my case for that first Test would be great,” he added.
“India was a long time ago now, nearly two months ago. We have to look forward to what is happening here, and all I can control is how I bowl in practice and then how I bowl if I get an opportunity in the warm-up games.
“The great strength of this team is the fact there is such competition for places - in every department.
“Obviously, I’m probably down the pecking order at the moment. The guys who have been playing have done a fantastic job. I just have to wait for an opportunity, and when I get it I have to take it.
“I’ve played a fair amount of cricket in sub-continent conditions in both one-day and four and five-day matches. I feel I have the skills that you need for it.”
Finn is hoping he can let the ball do his talking, in a match at the ICC’s GCA ground in Dubai Sports City which will also see another England pace hopeful trying to catch the selectors’ eye - in the opposition ranks.
Boyd Rankin, of Ireland, Warwickshire and England Lions, has a chance to put his name in the frame - in the slightly longer term. At 27, time is pressing a little for Finn’s fellow 6ft 7in bowler.
He said: “If I can get a good performance in, I hope it will show the (England) coaches and captain what I can do. I hope I can get to that stage where I can be playing Test cricket for England.
“I want to play at the highest level I can. Unfortunately, I can’t play Test cricket for Ireland. So I want to do it for England - sooner rather than later, because I’m not getting any younger.”