Steven Finn bowled England to the brink of a Test match victory against South Africa and confirmed his standing as one of the most potent strike bowlers of all time.
Finn took three wickets today against South Africa, including that of Hashim Amla, to leave Alastair Cook’s tourists six wickets from winning the first match of the series, in Durban.
The youngest Englishman to take 50 Test wickets and the fifth fastest to take 100 in terms of balls bowled, Finn has 107 Test victims to his name but, more impressively, only Dale Steyn and Waqar Younis of post-war players take their wickets in a fewer number of balls.
“That’s an incredible statistic,” said former England captain and strike bowler Bob Willis on Sky Sports’ The Verdict this evening. “You can forget about the old timers – to be up there with Steyn and Waqar and Akhtar [is a fine achievement].”
Finn missed the series with Pakistan in the UAE because of a stress fracture to his left foot and was not named in the original squad for the tour of South Africa. However, once he underwent his rehabilitation at Watford’s training ground and proved his fitness with the England Lions, he was added to the Test squad and restored to the side for the first time since the Ashes Test at the Oval.
The 26-year-old claimed 14 wickets in the four Ashes Test matches and is benefitting from the balance all-rounder Ben Stokes brings to the side.
“Finn plays his best cricket when he’s got four seamers in the side,” said former England spinner Robert Croft. “He’s got that license to bowl as he wants. When you’ve only got three seamers, you know if have a bad day you are putting the side under pressure.”
Jonathan Trott said on the same show that Finn is “fulfilling the potential” he saw in him when he broke into the side in 2010 while Willis, along with Michael Holding, has always been his biggest admirer.
“He’s a very fine bowler, a tall lad and when gets the line right he’s a very aggressive bowler,” said Willis. “He’s always had the knack of getting wickets. He was the leading wicket taker in the 2010/11 Ashes series when he was dropped [after the defeat in Perth].
“[The ball that got Faf du Plessis today] was a superb delivery – that’s what you are looking for from your strike bowler. He doesn’t take the new ball but he should have the new ball, even if Anderson and Broad are in the side.”
Click HERE to read how Watford help restore Finn to full fitness