Finn argues the toss favoured England
For the third Test in the series, this may prove to be a good toss to lose - as Andrew Strauss said after opposite number Graeme Smith opted to bat first at Lord’s.
In the opener at the Kia Oval, England won the toss only to face the toughest batting conditions of the game on day two. Their first-innings 385 was insufficient and they went on to lose by an innings.
Graeme Smith also called incorrectly at Headingley Carnegie, but Andrew Strauss’ understandable decision to field allowed South Africa’s batsmen first use of a better-than-usual pitch for batting. That match was drawn.
Today, in the third and final Investec Test at Lord’s, Smith announced his decision under sunny skies at 10:30am. However, by the start cloud cover had rolled in, which the hosts exploited during the morning session.
James Anderson had Smith caught behind before Steven Finn struck thrice in two overs to leave the Proteas 54 for four. Even though they recovered somewhat to 262 for seven by stumps, Finn was glad to have first use of the ball on his home ground.
“To be honest I think we would have bowled first,” he said.
“I personally enjoy bowling first at Lord’s and, as Straussy said at the toss, it was a good toss to lose.
“You want to get a big score on the board (in the) first innings, but it was a great opportunity for us to get stuck into South Africa early.”
Finn had Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis caught down leg either side of bowling Hashim Amla to give England the start they needed as they seek to defend their place at the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.
“I was delighted to get three wickets and three quite important wickets,” he added.
“We needed wickets to really assert ourselves on the South Africans in this game, so I was happy with that.
“Maybe I chased wickets a little bit today, trying to come into the team not as an enforcer but as a wicket-taker. Maybe I searched for it a little bit. That’s the nature of cricket and tomorrow, when I come back, hopefully I’ll bowl well again.”
South Africa’s fightback was based on three consecutive fifty partnerships, which frustrated England somewhat in the afternoon and evening sessions.
However, Finn knows the sunnier conditions in the second two-thirds of the day worked in the tourists’ favour.
“I thought we bowled beautifully in the first session,” he reflected.
“We made use of those conditions that were there for us and, as the day went on, the sun came out and the ball got a bit softer and the wicket didn’t do as much; it didn’t have as much zip. I thought we stuck to our guns really well.”
Finn, who like James Anderson took three wickets today, would certainly have settled for this position at the start of play.
“I think we’re a little bit ahead of the game at the moment,” he said.
That is a sentiment shared by JP Duminy, who top-scored today with 61. Having watched the first half-century alliance between AB de Villiers and Jacques Rudolph, he shared his own with Rudolph and Vernon Philander.
“Session one didn’t go our way,” he admitted. “I think we’re pretty happy with how sessions two and three went for us.”
“I guess, as it stands now, England are probably more on top than what we are. But I think the fighting spirit we showed at the end, we’re pretty happy with.”
Philander will resume on 46 alongside Dale Steyn on 21, hoping to make the fourth fifty stand of the innings at the very least.
“We would like to get to 300 if we can,” he revealed. “Anything above that would be a bonus.”
“There’s always something in it for the bowlers so, if we can utilise that with our bowling potential, I’m sure we'll get stuck into the England line-up.”