Three Lions’ tour of Australia continues to lurch from one problem to the next.
Middlesex chief Angus Fraser has urged Steven Finn to “fall back in love with bowling” after the fast bowler was sent home from England’s tour of Australia on Wednesday.
Finn was the only member of England’s original Test squad not to appear during the 5-0 Ashes whitewash.
The 24-year-old has now suffered such a decline in form he has left Australia with four out of the five one-day internationals still to play after being left on the sidelines for England’s six-wicket defeat in Melbourne on Sunday.
Finn last played in a tour game against a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in Alice Springs in November when he returned figures of no wickets for 61 runs.
England did not even trust the Middlesex quick on Tuesday against the Australian Prime Minister’s XI, another modest scratch side.
Yet it was barely a year ago that Finn, who has taken 90 wickets in 23 Tests at a shade under 30 apiece, as well as appearing in 39 ODIs, was considered to be one of England’s leading quicks and hopes were high the 6ft 7in paceman would have a significant role in Australia,
Media reports say Finn has lost all confidence and rhythm during the disastrous tour Down Under.
And there have been suggestions Finn has been subjected to a barrage of conflicting advice from former England seamer Fraser, who has overseen his rise through the ranks as director of cricket at Lord’s-based Middlesex, and England’s Australian-born bowling coach David Saker.
“We’ve been in communication with Steven and with (England limited-overs coach) Ashley Giles and concluded that this is the best way forward,” said Fraser.
“It’s hugely frustrating for Steven because he wanted to play a major part in Australia but sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets,” added Fraser, who played 46 Tests for England.
“It’s hugely frustrating for Steven because he wanted to play a major part in Australia but sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets.
“Working every day to try and win selection, with people asking where he is and what he’s doing is not the ideal environment.”
Fraser said the best thing Finn could do in the immediate term was to take a break from cricket.
“We have some ideas for Steven and the plan starts with him having a couple of weeks away from cricket to empty his head.”
Looking ahead, Fraser said the key factor in Finn getting back to his best was to rekindle his enthusiasm for the game.
“I think the main thing is that Steven falls back in love with bowling.
“It can become a job at times rather than the thing you dreamed about as a young cricketer – I’ve seen bowlers run up in tears before.
“But Steven just needs to love bowling for the sake of bowling again – not to win selection for the next ODI or the first Test of the summer. We’ll work with England to get him back playing cricket and enjoying himself.”
Earlier, former England spinner Giles insisted Finn’s international career was far from finished.
“Steven is one of our most talented bowling assets who has played and will continue to play an important role for England,” Giles said.
“He has been working hard over the last couple of months on technical aspects of his bowling and Steven and the coaches all feel continuing this work out of the performance environment will be beneficial for him.”