Rejuvenated Finn gets his mojo back in style
BIRMINGHAM: From outcast to hero, Steven Finn rediscovered the zing that made him England's youngest bowler to take 50 test wickets by ripping through Australia and boost the home side's hopes of regaining the Ashes.
A fiery Finn took five wickets on Thursday to leave England close to victory in the third test, letting Australia's batsman know in no uncertain terms that he had fully exorcised the demons that blighted his career.
It was vintage Finn, the Finn of old whose natural height and pace allowed him to trouble any batsmen with his steepling bounce.
That it came in the cauldron of an Ashes series was not lost on a bowler forced to rebuild his action and shattered confidence after returning from Australia in early 2014 at his lowest ebb.
"There have been dark times along the way but they make the good times all the more satisfying," the 26-year-old told reporters.
"Every cricketer goes through ups and downs... to come out the other side is a good feeling."
When he stepped off the plane in early 2014 after being sent home early from the last Ashes tour without featuring in any of the tests, Finn faced an uncertain future as a cricketer.
Branded "unselectable" by former England one-day coach Ashley Giles, Finn had experienced a mechanical breakdown with his run-up and action, embarrassingly highlighted by his habit of clipping the bails at the non-striker’s end with his knee.
Shortening his run-up made matters worse and Finn had to go back to basics and begin his journey back to the top.
He returned to the one-day side in the summer of 2014 and has been in and out of that side since, but it was not until this season that he began to feel his old rhythm returning.
Two years after his last test, Finn was handed his chance when Mark Wood failed to recover from an ankle niggle and was rested at Edgbaston.
Finn made his mark on the first morning on Wednesday when he captured the prize wickets of Steve Smith, the world's top-ranked batsman, and Australia captain Michael Clarke.
No mean feat, Finn repeated the act on Thursday and has figures of five for 45 in the second innings.
"Just nice to contribute to put us in a good position to win the game," he said.
"Obviously some personal milestones that were nice to get over... to put a test shirt back on. It's been great fun the last two days."