Thursday, January 16, 2014

Steven Finn-ished?

Writing further articles about England's Ashes Horribilus is probably not required. What is amazing however is that the bad news just keeps coming and it's not confined to what is happening on the pitch.

Steven Finn has become the third player to return home from the tour after Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann both bolted much earlier. Finn's departure will go mainly unnoticed as unless you'd looked at the original touring squad sheet you wouldn't have even known he was there.

What is quite ironic is that during Australia's sojourn to England last year, England were being heralded as the very appliance of science, the sophisticated answer to the uncouth Australians so epitomised by Darren Lehmann's up and at 'em approach.

Since that point of course, Australia have managed to wonderfully rehabilitate David Warner and Mitchell Johnson, coax much improved performances out of Steven Smith and Nathan Lyon and given Brad Haddin one hell of an Indian Summer.

At the same time, Andrew Flower's meticulously detailed and planned England side have seen their young players flounder (Stokes aside), their batting disintegrate, failed to spot that Jonathan Trott and Steven Finn were in no shape to play competitive cricket and didn't realise that Graeme Swann wasn't good enough to play the sport in any shape or form. And no one wants to explain why?

I cannot begin to suggest I know the detailed ins and outs of the Steven Finn issue but to me it seems bizarre to say the least and not without a whole heap of blame that should be shouldered by the ECB.

Steven Finn is now 24 years old, is 6ft 7in, can bowl at 90mph and had we were told modelled his action on Glenn McGrath (seems like a pretty good idea to me). Despite his sporadic inconsistency his International figures are more than respectable. He should be approaching his prime. So how did we get here?

Much has been made of Finn hitting the stumps constantly with his bowling arm. The rule change to make that a no ball prompting a revision of his action by his coaches.

Now I know it's not just as simple as 'move three inches to the left mate' but even to my layman's brain I honestly can't see that as a deal breaker.

Finn played the opening test in the English Summer and then was promptly dropped, he did not play well it has to be said. A similar occurrence was found in the previous Australian tour where he played at the start only to be left out later.

From what I have read and been told, Finn was not really in contention for a place in the team on this tour from the outset, so if that was the case why on earth take him?

Whilst much of the problem is with his action, there is clearly a huge mental aspect to the problem too and one has to ask what effect the ECB's handling of Finn has had, constantly dropping him and then taking him on a tour with no prospect of any cricket.

It sounds as if the guy is completely shattered mentally and if that is the case then hitting the stumps as he bowls is clearly not the problem.

At a very basic level, I find it hard to understand how a centrally contracted and hugely talented player can at 24 years old have such fundamental technical problems that he is rendered unable to bowl.

It is like having a formula one driver and suddenly finding out he can't change gear properly. Why are these things not identified so much earlier?

This article is I'm sure hugely over simplifying the issue but it is born out of frustration that two players, Trott and Finn (we'll leave Swann to one side) who should have been mainstays of the side have been allowed to get to such dreadful stages in their careers.

This England tour has been a debacle and the potential loss of one of the game's bright young talents is just one more straw on an already broken camel's back - No Nonsense.