Finn to augment natural strengths
Many are predicting a famous Test career for Steven Finn, but Andy Flower prefers to focus on the concrete evidence yielded from his impressive showings against Bangladesh.
Finn, the Middlesex fast bowler, took 15 wickets in England’s 2-0 npower Test series win sealed at Old Trafford yesterday, hastening the tourists' slide to an innings defeat with a haul of 5-42.
Though Finn admitted he did not bowl as well as at Lord’s, his ability to extract steep bounce from 6ft 7in was again in evidence, not least in bouncing out Imrul Kayes in both innings.
But England team director Flower unsurprisingly quells any comparisons between Finn and Australia’s all-time great Glenn McGrath.
“He has been very impressive,” said the coach. “He has very, very good control for a 21-year-old fast bowler. I think that comes from his action, and also a very sound and grounded personality.
“It is a great start for him, but he also realises that he has great scope for learning and progress.”
Finn will follow the path recently trodden by fellow pace bowler Stuart Broad - undergoing a strengthening programme, meaning he will miss several of Middlesex’s Friends Provident t20 matches, as England try to make sure they do not squander a potential jewel.
Flower is at pains to stress England’s gratitude to counties for their co-operation when players are taken out of match action.
“I would be very strong in the description that this is definitely not rest,” he said, explaining why Finn will also be absent from the ODIs against Australia.
“He will not be resting; he will be doing a very intensive strengthening programme.
“He is a young man that needs to develop more physically, and there is a window of opportunity to do that.
“It is the responsible thing to do for him personally and in the best interests of the English cricket side.”
There is no hint of subterfuge in the manoeuvre either, as in an attempt to hide a potential Ashes weapon from the Aussies.
“This does not have anything to do with Australia, or the Australian series,” said Flower.
“I would also like to emphasise that Middlesex - Angus Fraser and (bowling coach) Richard Johnson - have been very understanding on this subject.
“I feel for the counties when we make these decisions on players and pull them out of county games.
“The directors of cricket, coaches and captains are under their own pressure with results.
“When you pull their best players out of competitive matches it is quite a hit for them.
“It requires a lot of understanding from them, and we very much appreciate it.”
Mentioning Finn in the same breath as McGrath is not a great idea in Flower’s company, though.
“I don’t like to make those comparisons,” he confirmed. “Steven Finn is unique in various ways.
“He is very much his own man. Comparing him to other fast bowlers, to me, is not useful.”
If Finn lacks anything from the usual pace bowler’s template, it is the obvious outward aggression seen in the likes of Broad.
Flower appears to acknowledge that, but is not significantly concerned.
“I think aggressive fast bowlers are very useful, but it is important that your own personality comes through,” he said.
“He must be himself. But you also have to recognise that you are in a competitive world, and there are certain ways to show you are in that competition.
“It is important to retain your own personality, but also realise you have to win the game between you and the batsman.”