Cricket

Bowling coach Ottis Gibson was pleased with England's performance against South Africa.

Ottis Gibson backs Steven Finn to share top billing for England

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Steven Finn deserves to share top billing with England's feted new ball pairing, according to bowling coach Ottis Gibson.

For several years England's attack has been built around the established duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have shared the load during some of the country's finest recent triumphs on their way to a combined 750 Test scalps.

Behind them a rotating cast of back-ups have come in and out of the team - including Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, Mark Wood, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes.

But Finn has showed signs of being the best of the bunch since he returned from a two-year absence in last summer's Ashes, and now has 112 scalps of his own in his 29th Test.

He has been England's best bowler in South Africa and again commanded the spotlight with a consistently impressive performance on the first day of the second Test in Johannesburg, underlined by the near unplayable delivery that removed Hashim Amla.

Finn comfortably outshone both senior men and figures of two for 50 scarcely did the 6ft 7in seamer justice as the Proteas made 267 for seven.

But Gibson knows just what an asset the 26-year-old is.

"I'm very impressed with Finn, since he came back in the team in the Ashes he has certainly proven himself to be an outstanding fast bowler," he said of the series' top wicket-taker.

"Often a lot is said about Broad and Anderson, and they're quality bowlers with 700-odd wickets between them, but when Finn has the ball in his hand he looks a quality bowler as well.

"He's someone you can see playing a huge part for England in the coming years."

Finn shared the second new ball with Anderson in the evening session, though Broad's demotion may have owed as much to him feeling off-colour as anything else.

Broad was one of a handful of players who seemed to be struggling with the effects of a bug that has bothered the touring camp since the previous Test.

England captain Alastair Cook joked at the toss that some of his side were "trying to climb off their deathbeds" but Gibson played down the issue.

"There are some people under the weather but we're trying hard not to dwell on that, we don't want that as an excuse," he said.

"Obviously there was a bug going round Cape Town last week but since we got here everybody has reported fit. Some are not quite 100 per cent but we forged on and I thought we had a pretty good day."

Gibson was satisfied with the position at stumps, despite a late unbroken stand of 42 between Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada.

"Sometimes when the ball is doing a bit you think you should bowl the opposition out but you've got to remember they're in home conditions and they're good players," he said.

"To have them seven down on the first day of a Test match away from home is quite pleasing."

South Africa's day had begun in trying circumstances, Quinton de Kock being ruled out after slipping while walking his Jack Russell dogs on the eve of the match.

Dane Vilas was flown from Port Elizabeth at short notice to deputise, only arriving at the Wanderers an hour into his team's innings.

"Quinny said he was walking his dogs yesterday, slipped somehow and twisted his knee. That's something new in his life...it's a very freak injury," said batsman Dean Elgar.

"I found out at breakfast that Dane was flying into Jo'Burg. His day was pretty much turned upside down at 7am this morning, but when you get that phone call you do anything to get here."

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