Steven Finn's dream return to Test cricket

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Steven Finn has had a long and difficult road back to the Test arena but after bringing England to the brink of an Ashes victory at Edgbaston he admitted he was finally having fun again.

Finn last donned England whites in July 2013, when a wayward spell against Australia saw him axed one match into the series.

Worse was to come, with his confidence and run-up both wrecked on a miserable trip Down Under in 2013-14 which ended with a premature flight home having been deemed "not selectable" by then one-day coach Ashley Giles.


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But he has worked hard to put his game back in order and got his rewards with a redemptive five-wicket haul as England took a stranglehold on the third Investec Test.

Australia will resume on 168 for seven, with a fragile lead of 23.

"To pull a Test shirt back on has been great fun," Finn said, having soaked up the applause from a rabid Birmingham crowd.

"There have been dark times along the way, but it makes those good times all the more satisfying. To be sat here and help put the team in this position, it feels pretty darn good to be honest with you.

"Every cricketer goes through ups and downs no matter how high or how low. To come out the other side, it's a good feeling."

"It's been a while since I played Test cricket so to get a five-for on my game back feels fantastic."

Australia batsman Chris Rogers, Finn's former Middlesex captain, recalled seeing the 6ft 7in seamer in tears during a county match at Edgbaston last season but the emotions this time were all positive.

"I'm enjoying playing cricket at the moment. I used to put myself under a huge amount of pressure but now we just want to play with smiles on our faces," he said.

"We're playing with a can-do attitude."

Not all of England's attack will look back on the day as fondly as Finn, though.

James Anderson had hoped to spend his 33rd birthday watching his team-mates bat all day but the rapid nature of the match saw him pressed back into action in the afternoon session.

He pulled up with a side injury midway through his ninth over and will be assessed by England's medics overnight, though he is clearly a doubt for next week's Trent Bridge Test.

"For Jimmy to walk off halfway through an over, it can't be too good," was Finn's assessment.

"But who knows, with some magical medical healing and some rehab, you never know.

"He's a huge player for us, the leader of our attack, and he sets the tone with everything he does.

"If he was to miss out, it would be a big loss, but we don't know yet."

The turnaround from Australia's dominant 405-run win at Lord's to their apparent capitulation here was stark, and batsman David Warner believes the raucous nature of the support on show played its part.

Australia are used to vocal crowds at home but rarely play at an away ground as partisan as this one.

"The crowds are behind the home team, you hear the songs and chants, and you come over here and the crowds are singing, they're obviously behind the English. It is hard," he said.

"As an opener I don't know what it's like as an incoming batsman, but you do feel that pressure in yourself, you feel that little bit of pressure. It's helpful (to England), especially when they've got their tails up."

Mitchell Johnson started the day with vintage short-ball dismissals of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, becoming the fifth Australian to 300 Test scalps, but ended in frustrated mood.

Reviewing the perilous match situation he told Sky Sports: "It's not ideal, it's not something we're happy about.

"We've got 23 runs ahead and we need to fight in the morning, we need Starc and Nevill to put on a hundred partnership.

"We've got to stop this rot, it's not looking promising for us at the moment."

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England cricket
The Ashes
Steven Finn

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