Middlesex’s Steven Finn aims for winning combination
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For a player who has more than 100 wickets in Tests and ODIs to his name, who is about to embark on his 13th summer season as a professional cricketer it seems strange to still be talking about promise.
But Middlesex and England’s Steven Finn knows only too well the vagaries of top-level sport.
Since his Test debut in Bangladesh in 2010, Watford-born Finn has missed many more matches – 52 – than the 36 he has played.
But with a County Championship title to defend with Middlesex and seven Tests from mid-July onwards the hope is this summer will be a launching pad for a successful trip to Australia for the Ashes later this year.
Finn announced himself to the Australians by snaffling six wickets at the Gabba bearpit during England’s last victorious Ashes series Down Under in 2010/2011.
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Yet it was his 6-79 haul at Edgbaston in the home Ashes of 2015 – five long years later – that told of his excellence when form and class combined.
Known by many as the ‘Watford Wall’ after his heroic rearguard 56 from 203 balls faced in Dunedin in 2013 to help save a Test against New Zealand, Finn has got the mental strength and character to kick on again this season – as a bowler of course.
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Speaking to the Guardian he explained: “There’s never much in between – I am either bowling brilliantly or terribly. “It’s vital to have those around you who will give honest feedback and to look beyond the figures too.
“You might have four for 80 off 20 overs, but know you’ve bowled poorly. Then you might get more satisfaction from none for 20 off 15 having bowled well.
“If you purely looked at the numbers and the outcomes you would be kidding yourself. Riding the highs too high and the lows too low makes you topsy-turvy as a character and you won’t get the best out of yourself.
“It’s about staying level. When I have a good day I remind myself I’m not the best bowler in the world, and a bad day I remember I’m not the worst either.”
With his former second-team colleague Richard Johnson, now Middlesex’s well-respected bowling coach, working closely with Finn, this summer can be a springboard for another shot at Ashes glory Down Under later in the winter.
If selected it would be a full seven years since Finn played the first three Tests in that unforgettable 2010/11 triumph and he added: “There have been great and tough times.
“Through them I have a deep understanding of my game and know exactly what I need to do to improve and thrive.
“I bowl my best when I’m peaceful and I’m in the battle with the batsman and he knows that. I don’t think I’m a nice guy when I bowl and I think batsmen wouldn’t necessarily say I was a nice guy.”