But at Edgbaston, after 18 months of painstakingly reworking his bowling technique, the wickets tumbled and it was as if he had never had a ny problems.
Finn wasn’t just back — he was back with a vengeance. Based on last week’s evidence against Australia, a year and a half in the wilderness has transformed him from a talented young strike bowler into the complete package. His pace, accuracy and a new delivery proved too much for Michael Clarke’s men to handle.
‘The first wicket was classic,’ Middlesex bowling coach Richard Johnson told Sportsmail. ‘He shaped it beautifully away from the best batsmen in the world (Steve Smith) and caught the outside edge.
‘He got his mate Vogey (Adam Voges) out the same way, and Clarke as well. He bowled a spell at (Peter) Nevill when he played and missed about four on the trot!
‘In the last few months he’s developed the confidence to hold the ball seam-up and get it shaping away from the right-hander. He’s been able to do that for a while but not had the confidence to try it. Bowling a ball he hasn’t bowled before in a Test in his first game back . . . that took a hell of a lot of guts.’
The contrast between the third Test man of the match and the erratic bowler hurling waist-high full tosses into an empty net in Australia was startling.
But the confidence which Johnson highlights hit a low last year when, at the ground where his Test career was reborn, Finn was reduced to tears in a county match against Warwickshire.
‘It was very hard for him,’ Johnson reveals. ‘He was very, very low. He felt he’d let everyone down.
‘I’ve been there before: you run in and you’re a shadow of what you were. You still have an inner belief that you can get back, but you don’t know how. It’s a horrible feeling. You’re suddenly bowling at people who you’ve been all over and got out easily, and you can’t bowl at them — they’re hitting you everywhere and it feels terrible.
‘Young sportsmen just do what comes naturally and they don’t really think about it.
‘They don’t know why they’re doing it or how they’re doing it, and I think he was definitely one of those guys who just ran in, bowled quickly and took wickets.
‘But along the way, you tend to develop some bad habits, and I think he didn’t understand how to iron out those bad habits. He’d often jump in too close to the stumps and knock the bails off, then he would run in wider and wider to compensate for it. When you’re in the spotlight all the time and you’re with England on tour, the problems can get bigger and bigger until you crash.’
After Finn was described as ‘not selectable’ by then limited-overs coach Ashley Giles, Johnson and Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser put a plan in place to build him back up — covering everything from his action to the run-up he previously described as ‘just legging it to the crease’.
‘We had a clip of him from when he felt he was at his best (playing for England Lions against Pakistan A in 2010), and we worked from that,’ Johnson adds. ‘We looked at his positions, where he was on the crease, the angles he was coming in at, what his arms were doing and so on.
‘When we thought we got his technique back to where it was, we still felt his run-up wasn’t quite free-flowing. So we used Raph Brandon, who used to be Christine Ohuruogu’s running coach, to work with him on his run-up.
‘Now you can see he runs in at a slight angle, but he doesn’t jump in so close to the stumps now. He’s more mid-crease.’
Johnson felt that, with that final hurdle cleared, Finn was ready for a Test recall at the start of the season. So can Finn build on his Edgbaston heroics and become a more constant wicket threat for England?
‘Yes, he can. He’s got an incredible strike rate but he goes for a few runs,’ Johnson admits. ‘But his accuracy has improved and I think he’ll be able to sustain that over a long period of time. Not only will he take wickets, he will go for fewer runs.
‘At his previous best, he was the fastest to 50 wickets in an England shirt . . . there’s no reason why he can’t become a leading wicket-taker for England.
‘If someone at 6ft 7in is bowling 90mph with a bit of away-shape, that’s exceptional. And personally, I think that’s made him as good as there is.’ – Daily Mail
Original source: Secret behind Finn’s success