Joe Root backs Steven Finn to return for England against India
22:28 01 December 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Steven Finn will be ready and able if England need him in the third Test against India, according to an expert eye witness.
Joe Root saw Finn bowl at close quarters in the Performance Programme’s victory over the DY Patil Academy, and it did not take long for him to sense the fast bowler is back to his best.
Twice, it seems, England have had to consider the possibility of having to send Finn home early from this tour after he suffered a thigh strain on the first morning of the opening warm-up match back in October.
But after two scans indicated the injury was not too severe, they persevered with his rehabilitation in the hope he might after all become available.
So it has proved, and Finn’s return to fitness could yet be a key factor too after his fellow fast bowler Stuart Broad suffered a dip in form - especially while he was feeling the effects of a virus in the second Test in Mumbai.
England nonetheless pulled off a famous victory there to level the series at 1-1, with two to play, meaning Finn may well come into the reckoning to partner James Anderson in an attack almost certain to be made up of two seamers and two spinners when the third Test gets under way at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Root, who missed out on a Test debut to Nick Compton at the start of this tour but knows he is still only one injury away from a call-up, played instead for the EPP - and duly scored a big hundred.
He also saw saw Finn take four wickets for 50 in 16 overs on day one of three in Mumbai.
“He bowled fantastically well, and got some wickets and good overs under his belt,” said the Yorkshireman.
“I think he’s pretty happy with where he’s at now, and it will be interesting to see how things go over the next three days in training.”
Asked specifically if Finn will be ready to return to the Test team this week, Root said: “I’d like to think so.
“He’s got three big training days coming up, so I’m sure he’ll find out (if he is needed) in due course.”
Should Finn be back for what would be his 17th Test, he will join a team Root describes as being “on a massive high” after their spinners dominated India at the Wankhede Stadium.
He insists confidence has never wavered from the outset, that they could overturn 27 years of history since England’s last series win in India.
“There was 1/8that feeling 3/8 at the start of the tour,” he said.
“To get a win now is brilliant, and it’s a really exciting match coming up this week.”
England’s feelgood factor continues to take hold, and Ian Bell’s return after the birth of his first child between the first and second Tests means they are back to full strength.
The mood in Indian cricket has darkened following their team’s unexpected defeat, however.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s apparent preference for a turning pitch in Kolkata has caused some controversy, with long-serving groundsman Prabir Mukherjee reportedly voluntarily taking a month away from his duties in protest.
Mukherjee is also quoted as describing any instruction to tailor a surface for spin alone as “immoral”. Root, meanwhile, must simply make sure he is ready just in case any misfortune should befall either Compton or even captain Alastair Cook.
Whether he gets his first taste of Test cricket here or not, though, he is already savouring the learning experience of touring India.
“It’s been fantastic; just to get the opportunity to work with those guys is really beneficial,” he said.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as possible, and take as much from the tour as I can.
“You get exposed to these conditions, and it’s just great to have to adapt and try to get what you can here - and keep it on board, if required later on in the series.
“You’ve just got to make sure you’re absolutely ready if an opportunity arises.”
Root has come under the tutelage of former England batsman Graham Thorpe, here in the past week and of course previously with the EPP.
Batting coach Thorpe remains one of England’s all-time best players of spin, and accumulators of runs in the sub-continent especially.
“He’s got a fantastic record, and to speak to someone as successful as he was is great,” said Root.
“You can see that with the guys at the EPP - who are all really improving and enjoying the experience out here and, we hope, becoming better players for it.
“I think now, young lads coming through with DRS and everything, there might be a slightly different approach to how you go about playing spin.
“It’s just getting your head round that really. Everyone’s got their own way of playing spin, and it’s just finding out what works best for you to score as many runs as possible.”
On his first senior tour, an unusual ice-breaker - courtesy of a delayed visa and an outsize team blazer - worked to Root’s advantage.
He already knew fellow Yorkshiremen Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow well from Headingley, but few others.
It was therefore a handy turn of events that he was inadvertently sent a tour blazer which did not fit his slight build and had to be reordered after he made his way to join his new team-mates at the end of Yorkshire’s Champions League campaign.
“I turned up from South Africa, and they couldn’t quite get my visa sorted in time,” he said.
“So I missed the flight with the squad and had to take the next flight out.
“Unfortunately, my blazer didn’t quite fit me ... it was slightly big.
“It was probably six or seven sizes too big ... it felt like I was wearing Chris Tremlett’s blazer.
“But it was good fun and a nice ice-breaker for the rest of the side to get to know me.”