Steven Finn nearly back to his best and must have good chance of Test recall
But Cook and Dhoni are still poles part over the Anderson-Jadeja saga...
Last Updated: 06/08/14 6:25pm
Middlesex bowling coach Richard Johnson reveals exactly how Steven Finn has recaptured his form ahead of his return to the England setup.
Seamer Steven Finn has a ‘good chance’ of forcing his way into England’s starting XI for the fourth Test against India, says Mike Atherton.
Finn, 25, has not played a Test match since last summer’s Ashes series at Trent Bridge and was sent home from the winter tour of Australia after losing his action.
However, the Middlesex bowler is pushing for a place ahead of Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan after being recalled to the squad in place of the injured Liam Plunkett.
The build-up to the Old Trafford clash – and the questions directed to England skipper Alastair Cook and his Indian counterpart MS Dhoni – has been dominated by news that the ICC won't appeal the decision to clear James Anderson of his misconduct charge.
An Independent Commissioner last week cleared Anderson of abusing and pushing India's Ravindra Jadeja during the first Test at Trent Bridge but the ICC say there's no merit in an appeal and it's not in the best interests of cricket to prolong the proceedings.
Atherton reflected: “Both captains were poles apart in their press conferences – Alastair Cook giving Jimmy Anderson his full backing, MS Dhoni unrepentant about bringing the charge against Anderson in the first place.
“But that’s done and dusted now with [ICC chief executive] Dave Richardson’s announcement today so both teams will just have to get on with the cricket and forget about what has happened.
“Both sides have selection issues on a pitch that they say here at Old Trafford is the hardest that they’ve seen this year, so they are expecting some pace and bounce if not quite as much as in years gone by.
“England must think about Steven Finn – he’s a like-for-like replacement for Liam Plunkett, who I think would have played here had he been fit – so I think Finn has a good chance of playing.
"Finn is somewhere near back to his best; we watched him in a 20 over game the other week and he played pretty well and on this pitch his pace will be handy.
“India, for their part, are going to think about playing five bowlers after the match at Southampton where they only really played three-and-a-half and paid the penalty.
“They are probably thinking about bringing Ravichandran Ashwin in and Shikhar Dhawan’s place at the top of the order looks under threat as well.”
Former England batsman Mark Butcher said that while Finn deserves his chance, any change would be harsh on the player dropped from the side that secured a 266-run, series-levelling victory at the Ageas Bowl last week.
“I would be very inclined to play the same side again,” he said. “Ok, Chris Jordan didn’t have his best five days – particularly with the ball in hand, although he caught brilliantly.
“I don’t like to see teams being chopped and changed – one player out, one player in on a regular basis; I don’t think that’s particularly good for anybody.
“But if Finn does get back in that’s great for him. He’s obviously worked extremely hard to turn around a difficult situation and he will add something to the squad, but I hope they go in with the same team.”
India have the bigger headaches, though, according to Butcher who also urged skipper Dhoni to adopt a more positive approach.
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“India should have picked Ashwin in the last game – they’ve left themselves short in the bowling department in two out of the three Test matches so far and they haven’t particularly improved their batting lot.
“Gautam Gambhir is the other person who might come in although England will be quite pleased to see him given the problems he had against the short ball on the previous tour here.
“India have got to try and arrest the slide from the last Test; that slide was a mental one more than anything else, simply because their approach to the whole game was so negative.”
Watch England take on India in the fourth Test, live on Sky Sports from 10am on Thursday.