Ashes winner Steve Harmison believes that Steve Finn is integral to any success that England have at next year’s World Cup.
As well as admitting that the 25-year-old was mismanaged by the national team set-up leading to his premature departure from last winter’s Ashes series in Australia, Harmison says that Finn has a big role to play as part of England’s bowling unit.
The former Durham seamer also feels that, when all fit, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ben Stokes and Steve Finn can form a four-pronged attack that could be even more deadly than the quartet of Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison that helped England finally reclaim the Ashes after 18 years of heartache back in 2005.
Finn is key
Speaking at the launch of Royal London’s sponsorship of the PCA Benevolent Fund at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Harmison highlighted Finn as the focal point of England’s bowling attack over the coming months.
And with the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year followed by another home Ashes series, the Middlesex bowler could not have picked a better time to return to the fore once again.
“Finn for me is the key to England’s success in the next nine months. If he’s fit and bowling well then England have a good chance of getting wickets in the middle period during the World Cup,” said Harmison.
“Finn is the key because someone who can bowl over 90mph and can make the ball bounce on any given surface and be aggressive the way he is that makes a lot of the jobs easier for the rest of them.
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"Finn is the key because someone who can bowl over 90mph and can make the ball bounce on any given surface and be aggressive the way he is that makes a lot of the jobs easier for the rest of them"
As good as 2005
“If he’s fit and well when it comes to the attack I still believe if they’re (Anderson, Broad, Finn, Stokes) all firing then I think that is as good as 2005 was.
“I see a lot of similarities in that group between them and what we had, and they could be better because other than Jimmy they have youth on their side as well. I think they can get better.”
England will need a strong bowling attack if they are to progress through to the quarter finals from Pool A, which also includes Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland.
Finn has played 23 Test matches and 42 One Day Internationals, taking over 150 wickets for England and averaging below 30 in both formats. But the 6”7 bowler has had to take a step back from the international stage to redevelop his action over the past 12 months.
He was the only player in England’s 17-man squad not to make an appearance in the 5-0 Ashes whitewash at the hands of the Aussies, instead spending plenty of time in the nets. But Harmison - who sees a lot of similarities between himself and Finn - says that England should have taken better care of the seamer.
He added: “Looking from the outside over the last 12-18 months I think there has been a bit of mismanagement by all parties. Could we not have sent Steve Finn to play first class cricket in New Zealand for two months, rather than to Australia?
“I think Steve Finn is a lot like myself. I think he needs to bowl, rather than spending time in the gym and I think he needs to find that balance.
"I think Steve Finn is a lot like myself. I think he needs to bowl, rather than spending time in the gym and I think he needs to find that balance"
“Steve Finn has probably bowled for two and a half months, three months in a net situation maybe aiming at one stump. If anything he’s probably trained himself into bad habits.
“When you’re not playing it’s hard because you don’t get the best of situations, you don’t get the best of surfaces, you get left behind a little bit because the coaching staff are naturally thinking more about the first eleven players.”
Finn has worked hard on his game, also ironing out the regular fault of kicking the stumps during his follow through, which has led to a law change making it a no-ball. He returned to the England starting line-up in limited-overs action against India last summer, and can now get more playing time under his belt in Sri Lanka.
“I think someone like Steven needs more games than he needed nets and I think that’s where England have mismanaged him,” explained Harmison.
“England have got to manage him well, if they manage him well they’ll get the best out of him and then they’ll have a fantastic bowling group of Finn, Stokes, Broad and Anderson.”
England are scheduled to play seven ODIs in Sri Lanka, and also have a triangular series with Australia and India in the new year before the World Cup starts in February.