London Evening Standard

“The Aussies like playing aggressive, in-your-face cricket,” he says. “That suits their players so we have to prepare for that. We will have to play aggressive cricket, go toe to toe with the Australians. We can’t play meek, timid cricket because we’ll get found out.

“Sometimes you have to grind out results. But, on the flip side, as the series against New Zealand shows, the way to get the best out of ourselves is by trying to entertain. Playing with a smile suits us.”

His wider point is that this approach is all the more important now.

“As an English cricket team we have to win back the fans because we have alienated them,” says the Middlesex fast bowler. “The cricket we have played this summer is getting people back on our side. I’ve never seen crowds get behind us for a one-day series like they did against New Zealand. We want to make people proud to be watching an England team playing a high-level game with a smile.”

The overhaul at the top of English cricket saw Moores and ECB managing director Paul Downton sacked and Trevor Bayliss and Andrew Strauss come in as coach and director of cricket respectively.

Bayliss has only just started work — Paul Farbrace led the team in the ODIs — but Strauss has already had an impact, with his management moving away from the bunker attitude that has often characterised English cricket in recent years.

“For the first time, we have been allowed to wear those little ear pieces in the dressing room to hear the television commentary,” says Finn. “Before that they were banned. The TV would always have to be on mute. It is important that, when you are out there playing, you are a team. But it’s also hugely important to let the people in: the fans, the media, and give us an insight.”

But can England maintain this new attitude in the Ashes under Alastair Cook given that he was not part of the one-day revival after being dropped from the squad for the World Cup? “He is a different sort of leader to Eoin (Morgan) with the one-day team but that is necessary in Test cricket. I don’t think Cookie gets as much credit as he should for his captaincy. He is a very good leader, a lot shrewder than people think.”

And Finn points out that Cook will have two cricketers who have lit up the summer.

“Joe Root has been a revelation. I remember, on his first tour to India in 2012, I was bowling in the nets and I thought, ‘this guy is going to be bloody good’. The way he left the ball, the way he watched the ball was something I hadn’t seen in a young guy. He can grind out innings in a Test match, he can up the tempo, he can play funky shots. He is a real situation player. It’s scary to think how good he can be if he keeps learning at the rate he’s been.

“Ben Stokes has always had that x-factor that you want from an all-rounder. When he has played before he hasn’t had any direction as to what the team wanted him to do. He has been batted at eight and been bowling second or third change. Now he is batting at five and bowling first change. He has got that purpose about him and this summer he has already shown what a special cricketer he is.”

Finn is also full of praise for Mark Wood, who only made his debut in the Test series against New Zealand. “Wood has been excellent,” says Finn. “Anyone who can bowl at 90mph and move the ball is going to be a huge asset to any team.”

That Finn can be so generous about a bowler who may keep him out of the First Test shows how far his own cricket has been transformed this summer.

Back in April, one commentator suggested Finn was a depressed 26-year-old who could only talk about his past and look back at his old bowling clips to see what had gone wrong.

Finn was then trying to recover from a World Cup which saw him savaged by Brendon McCullum, conceding 49 runs in two overs. But his fortunes quickly changed in the first ODI here when he faced McCullum again.

“I thought I’d get him out bowling a length that is difficult to hit in England,” says Finn. “He hit me for two fours. The third time he tried I bowled him. It was satisfying.”

At the age of 22, Finn became the youngest England bowler to take 50 Test wickets but it is two years since he last played in the long form of the game for his country.

“I don’t want to look to the past,” he adds. “In the past I’ve worried a bit too much about what people are saying. I’m happy with where I am. I’m happy how the ball is coming out of my hands. I’ve bowled the odd spell at 90, 92, 93 mph. And I certainly feel I can do myself justice if I am picked for England.”


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