Thursday, 4 March 2010

Finn's chance to beat England's bowling curse

With the news today that Ryan Sidebottom is going home from Bangladesh, with Stuart Broad and Graham Onions unlikely to play, England's bowling line up for the tests looks decidedly weak. With Jimmy Anderson also not playing due to a knee injury, England may well be forced into blooding three fast bowlers with only two test appearances between them. In light of the spate of injuries and withdrawals, Middlesex seamer Steven Finn has been added from the Lions squad, with Tim Bresnan joining the squad from the One Day team. Bresnan has only played twice in England whites, with Finn having never played at international level. They are due to be joined by Ajmal Shahzad, veteran of a sole Twenty20 game against Pakistan. With either Luke Wright or James Tredwell (both uncapped) also likely to play in the first Chittagong test, England could quite conceivably play a bowling attack with only one bowler (Graeme Swann) having played more then twice. So surely England will be rolled over against test cricket's weakest team?

In short, no. While England will miss their main three strike bowlers (and Ryan Sidebottom) from their attack, Graeme Swann proved that he is capable to take much of a batting line-up in South Africa, and Bresnan has proved in short form games that he is a perfectly good bowler. If Finn and Shahzad are added to this (or England's forgotten man Liam Plunkett), England should have more then enough to roll over a pretty poor Bangladesh team. The only remaining spot is debatable, between all-rounder Luke Wright, and off-spinner James Tredwell, both of whom will act in a supporting role to the main bowlers. So England should have enough about them (both in terms of wickets, and runs if both Bresnan and Wright play) to easily beat Bangladesh.

While England's bowling problems may appear to be cursed, this tour could turn into a blessing for England ahead of the Ashes. Steven Finn, the 6 foot 8 fast bowler has been lined up to become England's next great fast bowler. England have searched for a 'hit the deck' bowler who will worry batsmen with his bounce, and with the end of Harmison's international career, this search has become more critical. Finn is only 20, but if he gains the international experience in the fast-bowling desert of Bangladesh, he could be an outside shout for the first test in Brisbane. Finn will no doubt become a crucial part of England's team over the next few years, and with some question marks remaining over Graham Onion's ability when the ball isn't swinging, Finn could throw down the gauntlet to the selectors with wickets in Bangladesh. While Finn is certainly not guarenteed to start, it is worth looking at him and Shahzad, as Plunkett has already proved that he is not international quality. Even if Finn doesn't perform particularly well (or at all), being in and around the England squad will set him up for the future, as well as showing that he is very much part of the selectors plans.

I have long supported the rise of Steven Finn, and hopefully he can get the international recognition that he both craves and deserves.

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