Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Steven Finn can expect to be in the thick of it tomorrow when England begin the third Test against India in Kolkata, but if so he will spare a thought for Stuart Broad.
The latter was off-colour with a virus before the second Test in Mumbai and then performed below his best while the tourists nonetheless won by 10 wickets to level the four-match series at 1-1.
Finn was not in contention to play back then, still recovering from a thigh strain. But he has since demonstrated his form and fitness with four wickets for the Performance Programme against the DY Patil Academy.
Bowling coach David Saker also made it abundantly clear a week ago that England acknowledge Broad is short of top form, and Finn may be the answer to operate alongside James Anderson as one of just two frontline seamers.
Finn duly showed his well-being again in the nets yesterday, bowling six overs in two spells.
Broad also bowled, but will not need to be a master of perceptive thinking to sense he may be about to be dropped.
Finn is taking nothing for granted - and should Broad still be preferred, he insists England’s vice-captain will let no one down.
“Broady is an exceptional bowler,” he said. “He has had tough times in his career before, with injury.
“He has played 50 Test matches; he’s a world class, and we know that he will come back.
“He has not been a million miles away. He has not had the wickets he wants. But if he plays in this game, I am sure he will come good for us.”
Finn can empathise with Broad from his own experience of what it is like to lose form mid-series.
In England’s historic 2010/11 Ashes victory, in fact, both men were absent by the time the urn was won.
Broad suffered a tour-ending side injury in Adelaide - and a match later after Australia had levelled the series in Perth, Finn was replaced by Tim Bresnan. “I have been there a couple of times in my career so far - mainly halfway through the Ashes tour, I suppose,” he said.
“It’s difficult as a bowler. There’s no hiding place - you just have to keep running in.”
As for the challenge likely to face him here, perhaps in a support role to spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann but with a brief to make an impact in short spells, Finn does not lack self-belief.
“Our spinners took 19 wickets in the last match, so rightly there is that talk about spin.
“But fast bowlers have a role to play in the sub-continent.
“We have seen world-class (pace) bowlers do come here and perform; they do take wickets and they find ways of taking wickets.
“I feel that fast bowlers are underrated in these conditions - and as we saw in the first Test, the Indian fast bowlers bowled well and took wickets at important times.
“So whichever seamers are picked will be able to be used in a similar fashion.”