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Should have stuck with him through thick and Finn . . .

THE fall from grace of Steven Finn has been a sorry tale.

Steven Finn may be given a chance to restablish himself. Picture: PA
Steven Finn may be given a chance to restablish himself. Picture: PA

Once heralded as the fast bowler to spearhead England's attack for a decade, he has never quite recovered from being dropped in Australia three years ago. Then, despite being the leading wicket-taker, he was adjudged to have been too expensive and made way for the apparently more dependable Tim Bresnan.

That move - along with forced tinkering in his run-up and action by various coaches - may have been proven shortsighted. How England could have used his pace and steep bounce in this series.

Now, though, with England's Ashes chances already smashed to pieces by Mitchell Johnson and his pack of ravenous accomplices, Finn may been tossed the ball and asked to help turn the tide.

The consensus is that he is still short of his best, having not been picked for a Test since last summer's Ashes opener in Nottingham. There, he bowled only 10 of 120 overs in the second innings as Australia came within a whisker of a remarkable run chase before losing by 14 runs.

He is still eager to get back into the fray, though. "If I was picked for a Test, I wouldn't let anyone down with my effort or with my attempt to do a job," he said, confidently. "I feel as if I could do a job for the team if I was selected for a Test tomorrow."

He has not had an easy time of it, brought along but quickly realising he was unlikely to be playing at the start of this winter's Ashes. Finn and fellow tall fast bowlers Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin - and the returning Bresnan - were sent on this tour apparently to jostle for one available place to support new-ball pair Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

Finn remains optimistic nonetheless. "It's been my determination for the last two months [to get into the Test side]," he added. "I haven't come here thinking I'm on holiday - that I don't want to play a part in the Test series. That would just be stupid, and I'd never do that.

"I've gone into the preparation for every Test and every warm-up game with the intention of performing as well as I possibly can, but sometimes it happens in sport that you don't perform at your optimum level all the time. I haven't done so far on this trip, but I'm working hard to turn it around."

Finn has had to sift well-meaning, and expert, advice from several quarters - England bowling coach David Saker and, back at Middlesex, former Test seamer Angus Fraser prominent among them - as he tries to rediscover the form which saw him take 90 wickets in 23 Tests.

He does not believe all his difficulties stem from a need to stop knocking over the stumps - an idiosyncrasy which became a vexing issue after an International Cricket Council ruling that as a no-ball and therefore potential loss of a hard-earned wicket.

"Obviously it wasn't ideal that I was knocking over the stumps, but I was bowling quickly at the time and I was bowling accurately in one-day and Test cricket," he said. "I don't think that's where the problems started. My body has developed over the last 12 to 18 months, and maybe I've grooved bad habits at times.

"It's not through a lack of trying, it's not through lack of effort, and it's not through lack of direction. I know which direction I want to go and I am going in the right direction - it's just taking a little longer than I want it to.

"I know what I'm working towards. and how I want to go about it - it's just a question of doing that."

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