Trapped in a world of misfortune, England cricketer Steven Finn has managed to forge his own tale in the realm of cricket. Emerging as the ideal fast bowler for his nation, complementing James Anderson and Stuart Binny with his height and pace, Finn ensured that he remained caught up in the cricketing circles as a player with special talent and undiminished skills. Equipped with a heavy bounce and a lavish swing, the 28-year old managed to rout the opposition with an experience that remained uncomfortable and aggressive, to say the least.
Ever since his debut in 2009 against Bangladesh, the right-hander made a reputable name for himself as a potential threat, picking up a wicket in every 51.2 balls in his injury-stricken Test career of 36 matches. The fact that his strike rate is more than the new entrant in the 500 Test wicket-club Anderson, indicates the talent stored within the bowler from Middlesex.
And then the injuries found a way to disrupt him. Plagued with inconsistencies and eventual frustration, Finn’s career plummeted into a downward spiral even before it had attained its summit. Flashes of excellence, displayed when he picked up 6/79 in Australia’s 2nd innings at Edgbaston in 2015 or when he climbed to the second position in the ICC rankings in 2012, were interspersed with long trails of wear and tear to the body and consequent inaccuracies in his line, length and rhythm ensured that he never got to feature in a Test match after the game against Bangladesh last year.
Just when Finn himself had given hopes of a Test comeback anytime soon, circumstances panned out in such a way that he soon found himself named as a replacement for vice-captain Ben Stokes. No sooner had he boarded the plane to Australia, he was in the flight back home- an interplay of fate combining with a torn left knee cartilage, picked up in a freak incident when he was batting in the nets and hit himself with the bat in the process. As he readies himself to go under the knife, his mind will rush towards the complexities of what ifs and what nots. What if the injury had not incurred? What if he had indeed gotten a game and managed to make a swooping comeback? But as it is known, life rarely remains a fanciful place of whims and wishes but instead a zone of accepting one’s fortunes- however unfair it might seem.
Let us come down to the basics. Would Finn have been given a chance in the coveted Ashes, starting from November 23 this month? Or was he merely selected as he was the most experienced of the other crop of inexperienced bowlers in England? After Ashley Giles had called him “not selectable” in the Ashes tour Down Under the last time around, was Finn indeed good enough to find a place in the final eleven?
Maybe not. But with Broad, Anderson and Chris Woakes being the only fast bowlers with prior Ashes experience, Finn’s expertise could have been utilized in case of a breakdown to any of the above in a series lasting over 6 weeks. Even though he has played only 3 Test matches in Australia, in the series in 2010, such was his effectiveness that by the 3rd match had ended, he was already the leading wicket-taker for his team, with 14 wickets and a strike rate of 46.1. However, an economy in excess of 4 saw him being dropped from the side.
He has turned out for 7 Ashes games, picking up 27 wickets at an average of 30.39, including two 5-wicket hauls.
He consistently troubled the Aussie batsmen with his yorkers and back-of-a-length-deliveries, pocketing the likes of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson three times in seven and four games, respectively. Even current Australian captain has been dismissed by Finn on three occasions in the 5 matches that he has faced him.
As mentioned before, Finn could have failed to make an everlasting impact in his comeback series, but as is well known, all it takes is a series of well-aimed deliveries and a few ounces of luck to stamp an emphatic authority in cricket once again. Sadly for Finn, his luck ran out sooner than he would have hoped.