31 Jul 2015

Steve Finn turns his career around

11:26 am on 31 July 2015

Eighteen months ago a sobbing Steve Finn sat with a tracksuit top over his head at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, wondering if he could ever get back to being an international class fast bowler.

England bowler Steve Finn celebrates a wicket 2015.

England bowler Steve Finn celebrates a wicket 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Now the lanky paceman has produced a fine spell that ripped through the Australian top order and yielded figures of five for 45 to reduce the tourists to also-rans in the third Ashes Test in Birmingham.

Australia are 168 for seven, a lead of just 23 runs at Edgbaston.

But the story was so different when he last faced Michael Clarke's side and was taken apart by Brad Haddin in the opening Test of the 2013 Ashes campaign, then axed from the side for the rest of the series and told to go back to county cricket to find some form.

Although he was selected for the return series in Australia three months later, so bad were his displays in the nets that he was considered "unselectable' for the five Tests and subsequent one-day internationals that followed and sent home by the coaching staff following another wild net session in Brisbane.

But after two years in the Test wilderness where he has remodelled his run-up and action, ended with a surprise call-up for Edgbaston.

It proved to be an inspired move by England with the 26-year-old taking two wickets in the first Australian innings and then five for 45 in their second to take his side to the cusp of victory.

Finn admitted there had been some dark times since his last appearance against Australia but felt he had come through the other side and was almost back to his best.

"Im enjoying playing cricket at the moment. I used to put myself under a huge amount of pressure when I went out there and played," Finn said.

"At the moment, the way this environment is set up, we just want to go out there and enjoy it and play with smiles on our faces.

"After my first over went for 14 it wasn't too easy to smile, but as the day went on I got that smile back and it felt good."

After capitulating to 136 all out on the first day and then facing a deficit of 145 after England made 281, Australia had no answer to Finn's pace, bounce and movement at a raucous Edgbaston.

Only a defiant 77 from David Warner and an unbeaten 37 from Peter Nevill held up England's victory bid inside two days.

Australia's fragility was ruthlessly exposed by Finn after Chris Rogers was trapped lbw for six to Stuart Broad.

Finn repeated his feat of the first innings by snaring Steve Smith and Michael Clarke in a superb spell either side of tea.

Smith perished for eight when he top-edged to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and Finn had his tail up again immediately after the interval.

Australia captain's Clarke's poor run continued when he edged Finn to Adam Lyth at fourth slip and Edgbaston went wild again moments later when the paceman dug another short one into Adam Voges who fended straight to Ian Bell.

Mitchell Marsh saw off the hat-trick ball, allowing it to pass by off stump, but had made just five when his bails were sent flying by the towering Finn.

A pugnacious Warner still carried the fight, equalling the fastest half-century by either side in an Ashes Test - emulating the 35 balls compatriot Graham Yallop took in 1981 - but the opener fell to James Anderson, who later went off with a suspected side strain.

Joe Root with 63 top-scored for England who were boosted by an entertaining eighth-wicket stand of 87 between Moeen Ali (59) and Broad (31).

Mitchell Johnson took his 300th and 301st Test wickets in a rip-snorting second over of the morning, dismissing Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes.

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