Finn stakes his Ashes claim as Shahzad impresses
Steve Finn’s 15 wickets in England’s comfortable 2-0 series victory over Bangladesh should convince the selectors he is worthy of an Ashes place this winter.
The 21-year-old Middlesex quick’s hostility was too much for Bangladesh’s diminutive batmen on two fairly even paced tracks.
The Australian’s will of course pose a significantly sterner test come Brisbane in November but Finn’s performances showed the kind of potential which will have brought a smile to Andrew Strauss’ face.
Steve Harmison has eroded his test credentials over the past three years but such is the premium placed on hostile fast bowling that his name is still regularly mentioned.
But Finn’s efforts should have silenced the Harmison camp, for the time being at least.
Duncan Fletcher long advocated the construction of a group of fast bowlers capable of stepping into the test team or even being rotated as the quantity of matches increased.
His theory came true in the aftermath of the 2005 Ashes win when injuries suddenly exposed the likes of Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett to the highest level.
The Zimbabwean then would no doubt praise the inclusion of Finn and Ajmal Shahzad against the Tigers.
The glorious Tamim Iqbal aside, Bangladesh’s batsmen are barely up to first-class standard but exposing these youngsters to the test match environment is as crucial as the quality of opponents.
Both have experienced the kind of stringent media scrutiny and crowds the county scene simply cannot match.
30,000 baying Queenslanders will of course be different to 9,000 doughty Lancastrians but it is a start and Finn has shown an admirable maturity on and off the pitch in his fledgling career so far.
Shahzad on the other hand gave the speed-gun a test and, whisper it, even evoked memories of Simon Jones with some full-pitched reverse swing bowling.
The Yorkshireman is still some way off an Ashes place but he adds an extra dimension to growing pool of young quick’s.
Fast bowling is an unrelenting, savage art and injuries are a fact of life but England are doing as much as they can to insure against future problems.