‘What’s the nastiest thing I’ve done?’ repeats the fast bowler who terrorised Australia on his dream return to Test cricket at Edgbaston. ‘I pulled a spider’s legs off when I was younger. I don’t know. You have to have an air of nastiness about you as a fast bowler but I don’t walk around spitting and screaming.’
It is his very niceness that made Finn such a popular man of the match in the Investec third Test, and the manner in which he has fought back from a crisis that saw him sent home from the last Ashes tour such a heartwarming story.
‘I try to play with a smile on my face,’ admitted Finn. ‘I try to let my bowling do the imposing and not necessarily scowl or say things to the batsmen. When you are younger you learn a style that brings the best out of you and I guess this is best for me. I’d say I’m relatively gentle but I can be nasty if you want me to be.’
The nice Finn is just fine if it means he can gain the pace and bounce from his 6ft 7in frame that saw him take eight wickets in Birmingham and catapult England back into the lead in this topsy-turvy Ashes series.
The tale of how one of the world’s best young fast bowlers lost all rhythm to the point where he became ‘unselectable’ but battled back to ride to England’s Ashes rescue is one that Finn is becoming tired of telling.
‘To be frank I’m sick of talking about the past,’ said Finn as he prepared for tomorrow’s fourth Test. ‘That’s been and gone. I can sit down and think about the past but I am trying so hard not to because I am in a good place and want to keep it going.’
Yet it is impossible not to dwell on his rise and fall, then rise again at the most opportune time for England. He has faced a long, hard road back from the time he sat in tears in the dressing room of that same Edgbaston ground as a Middlesex player, wondering if he would ever bowl well again.
‘That was the year before last,’ said Finn of an incident highlighted by his Middlesex team-mate and now Ashes adversary Chris Rogers. ‘In the away dressing room at Edgbaston the light in the toilet goes out if you leave it for 30 seconds so I just sat in the showers. It was just frustration at not being able to master skills I had once found so easy. It drives you round the bend sometimes.’
His problems started when he was encouraged to shorten his run-up by then England bowling coach David Saker to combat the habit of kicking the stumps in his follow through that had been highlighted by South Africa’s Graeme Smith.
‘The short run-up definitely messed up my rhythm, my natural arm cycle and what my legs did and it was one of the calamitous decisions I made along the way,’ admitted Finn. ‘But it wasn’t Sakes’ fault. We were trying to find a way to stop me kneeing the stump. Sakes was the one who encouraged me to try a shortened run-up but he shouldn’t be blamed for what happened.
‘It has been me who had to sort it out but I wouldn’t have been able to do so without trusted people like Richard Johnson (Middlesex bowling coach) and Kevin Shine (ECB fast bowling coach).
‘I was searching for a golden nugget of information to turn me back into the bowler I knew I could be, but as every bowler will tell you, there is no such thing. In the end it came down to teaching myself the things that came naturally before. You have to go back to the beginning.
‘It was a long process and I have by no means cracked it yet. I have had one good game and I need to back that up now.
‘That is very much what I want to do this week.’
The absence of Jimmy Anderson on the ground where he has enjoyed such success gives Finn, at 26, the chance to not only cement a regular Test place again with another starring performance against Australia but take on the responsibility he craves.
‘I’d love to be a dead cert in the England team and it’s a big ambition of mine to be the leader of the attack,’ said Finn, who touched 92mph at Edgbaston. ‘My driving ambition has always been to get that place.
‘At the moment I’m very much a support player but over time, as guys are phased out of the team, I will try to take extra responsibility when it comes. I want to keep building to the stage where I’m a name on the teamsheet rather than a bloke with a question mark alongside me.’
That question mark will soon disappear for a man who may still be expensive at times, but has a better strike rate than any other England bowler with the number of wickets he has taken. He can make a start by stepping into Anderson’s shoes in a Test where England could wrap up the Ashes with a Test to play.
‘I’ve nicked Jimmy’s place in the dressing room so there’s a bit of pressure on me to take the wickets he’s taken here,’ smiled Finn.
If he does, it will be proof that nice things really do happen to nice people. – Daily Mail
Original source: Finn ready to stun Aussies, again