Cow Corner

Cricket enters era of Finn-sanity

Cow Corner

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Steven Finn celebrates

English batsmen hitting centuries and winning one-day internationals is so rare an occurrence that the star turn of this series hasn't had quite the appreciation he deserves.

Alastair Cook was superb, Kevin Pietersen resurgent. But the best news for English cricket was the outstanding performance from fast bowler Steven Finn.

Fans of basketball across the globe are currently falling head over heels for the overnight success story that is Jeremy Lin. In the United States, they've dubbed it 'Linsanity'.

But cricket — and English cricket particularly — should be experiencing their own version of the excitement, because Finnsanity is coming.

His contribution today, a more than useful two for 42, was, remarkably, his worst of the series.

He sliced through the top order with four for 34 in game one, repeated those figures with a devastating second spell in game two, and was excellent once again in taking three for 24 three days ago in Dubai.

The numbers are breathtaking: 13 wickets at 10.3 runs apiece, with a wicket every three overs. He was England's equivalent of a mystery spinner — the player Pakistani wanted to avoid, had to fend off, and in the end succumbed to anyway.

In a four-match series, those numbers have only twice been bettered, once in a contest between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

It's all the more remarkable given that the decks of the United Arab Emirates are not the bouncy, lively pitches which should suit his bowling. Tilt the odds further in Finn's favour, and the results could be devastating.

Unlike Lin, Finn has not emerged from nowhere. Despite still being shy of his 23rd birthday, he has been touted as the next bright young bowling prospect for some time.

At just 16 years and two months, Finn was Middlesex's youngest debutant when he turned out in a first-class game at the Cambridge UCCE in 2005.

Finn's height — 6'7" — is a natural gift, as is an easy, repeatable high-armed action. But he has allied that to hard work, hitting the weights and putting on the final yard of pace that has transformed him from awkward to downright unplayable.

The leg-side four-ball which came out every other over in his first stint at Test level seems to have been eradicated to boot, and it hasn't been lost on him that balls aimed at the stumps tend to bring the most wickets. That 10 of his 13 wickets this series were clean-bowled, leg before wicket or caught behind by the wicketkeeper suggests as much.

Finn will surely now tour Sri Lanka next month, and despite these performances he will find it remarkably difficult to break into the Test side. His case is compelling, but so is Tim Bresnan's, who offers more with the bat and still retains a perfect record of victories for England at Test level, and Monty Panesar's, who shone as a second spinner and could be required again on some dead wickets.

But when Finn's chance does come again, he will arrive a more complete, mature bowler than the man who already has 50 Test wickets at 27 runs apiece. And that really could spell Finnsanity.

Stat of the day: Four matches, four centuries from opening batsmen, four victories. It could be coincidence. But it isn't.

User comment of the day: "Surely KP would be played by a young up and coming Arnie? Lots of muscles but mostly for show" — Answering the question 'Which film stars would play which England cricketers in a movie?', LD comes up with this remarkable thought.

Tweet of the day: "Will Buttler last long enough to get another T added to his name on the scoreboard?" asked @InnoBystander, reflecting the fact that his name had been spelt Butler — after his two-ball knock, the answer appeared to be no...

Coming up: The ODIs are over but there's still 120 overs of cricket to be played in the UAE. Three T20 internationals are next, beginning in Dubai on Thursday at 16:00 GMT. Having backed England in the Tests and Pakistan in the ODIs, Cowers is sitting on the fence for this one.

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