Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Steven Finn, youngest Englishman to 50 Test wickets, was born
April 4, 1989 - You tend to feel that Steven Finn has been playing forever, when the truth is that he turns 31 today, and not 38 as you might have thought.
The reason why Finn feels like 38 is that he made his county debut at 16, the youngest to do so since Fred Titmus in 1949. But, it was in 2009 that he began to return with eye-catching numbers. That year, he had an impressive season for Middlesex, taking 53 wickets at 30.64 in the Championship, and then did well for England Lions in the UAE.
Standing at 6 feet and 7 inches, and earmarked to represent England in his teens, Finn always stood out. When all three of Stuart Broad, Graham Onions and Ryan Sidebottom picked up injuries on England's tour to Bangladesh, Finn was called upon for emergency services and he rendered them decently well. He picked only two wickets in his first Test, also getting some tap, especially in the first innings.
It was in the comforts of home when Finn shone bright for the first time in his international career. Replacing Steve Harmison at Lord's, he started out with 4 for 100. In the second innings, he dished out one of his best performances with the red ball, claiming 5 for 87.
His 6 for 125 at the first Ashes Test at the Gabba was the highlight of his career. The lanky pacer backed it up with another good outing in Adelaide, helping England to a win. He became the youngest Englishman to 50 Test wickets in 2011. However, he played just one Test that year as Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett moved up the pecking order.
A habit of knocking off the bails while delivering the ball triggered a nosedive that was hard to stop for Finn. As the attempt to alter his run-up did not bear fruit, he tried to return to his original action but lost his pace and zip in the process. After 14 wickets during the 2015 Ashes and 11 wickets in three Tests on England's victorious tour of South Africa, it seemed that Finn was back for good, but the merry days didn't last for long.
“I’ve had my ups and downs over the last few years,” he says. “Everyone has. You have to stay as level and as calm as you possibly can, accept that you’re going to have good days and bad days. But you try and learn from the bad days so it makes the good days that much better and more satisfying when you come off the field.”
Last year, Finn signed a new contract with Middlesex until the end of the 2021 campaign. He continues to play for the county and picked a seven-wicket haul in his last game.
Having last played for England in an ODI against South Africa in 2017, Finn is not in the reckoning for the national team at the moment.
"If I was going tell myself anything if I was younger again, it would be keep bowling as fast as you can, because if you take wickets that'll look after itself. I'd love to play for England again. I look at myself in the mirror and if I wasn't motivated to do that, then I'd question what I'm doing," Finn had said when he turned 30.
He missed an audition for the last Ashes series due to two knee surgeries but still harbours hopes of an England comeback. Unrealistic, some might say. But, becoming the youngest Englishman to 50 Test wickets wasn't realistic either, was it?
© Cricket World 2020