Finn planning early strikes to put England on front foot

Steven Finn is out to repay the faith of captain Stuart Broad by delivering precious early wickets as England embark on the Super Eight stage of the ICC World Twenty20.

Finn’s improvement in the past 12 months puts him ahead of the rest, in England and mostly elsewhere, as a strike bowler in limited-overs cricket.

It is the paceman who England will first turn to in an effort to prise out West Indies dangerman Chris Gayle, for example, in their next match in defence of the title they won in the Caribbean two years ago.

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Finn has so far picked up an early wicket in each of England’s Group A fixtures – Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad and India’s Irfan Pathan. But he is far from satisfied and knows it is up to him to do even better.

England did not do enough with the ball, and certainly not the bat, as they folded to their worst Twenty20 total of 80 all out and their heaviest defeat – by 90 runs – against India in Colombo on Sunday.

But they are determined to put that experience behind them against the Windies at Pallekele on Thursday.

“They’re a very dangerous Twenty20 side,” said Finn. “It’s important that we go into this game really ready to hit them hard. Whether its me opening the bowling or the opening batsmen setting the tone, it’s important that we go out there and do that,” added the Middlesex man.

“As an opening bowler I have to set the tone for the team. I could get better at it. I haven’t been brilliant at doing that in the games we’ve played so far in the tournament, and I’m looking to get better again.”

Statistical homework has convinced England of the value of early wickets, as shown when they found themselves on the back foot once India got through their top order at the Premadasa Stadium on Sunday.

“We know that wickets peg you back in Twenty20 cricket,” said Finn. “We experienced that the other night

“It’s my job up front, sometimes bowling at the most dangerous batsmen, to get them out early on. I relish that opportunity. It’s great that Broady entrusts me with that new ball to go out there and try and do it – and it’s something I really enjoy.”

England will need a minimum of two wins out of three over the next six days to earn a return to Colombo next week for the knockout stages.

They have been able to bounce back from poor performances recently and Finn is placing great store in that resilience. He said: “We’ve played some of our best cricket after having poor performances, so it’s really exciting moving to Pallekele now to get these next three games under way.

“We don’t have to do anything different. We’ve had one bad game but we move on from it. We brush it under the carpet, we learn from our mistakes, and we get better from it.

“I think it was a bad day at the office. We played very good cricket in the warm-up games and very good cricket against 
Afghanistan.”

England will neither panic nor abandon the plans they have devised, even though they did not work against Harbhajan Singh at the weekend, on how to play spin, and combat sub-Continental conditions.

“We have our plans against spin and against seam bowling in Twenty20 cricket, and we’re going to stick to them,” added Finn.

“We’ve been working on our methods against spin bowling for a long time now – even me, batting down at 10 and 11.

“We’ve got plans in place against spin that we hope come off when we get out in the 
middle.

“We’ve spent a lot of time strengthening our games against spin over the last two or three years, since I’ve been involved in the set-up, and I think it’s going to come to fruition soon.”