KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Middlesex Panther and England Lion Steve Finn continues his exclusive column for Lords.org - writing about his call-up to the England World T20 squad.
News Flash: The day after writing this column, Steve was called up to the England Test squad in Bangladesh, replacing the injured Ryan Sidebottom.
Heat is on
I've only been back from the Lions' tour for a few days - it's been nice to have a couple of days off. I've been indulging in some retail therapy today after I spent a great evening at a Duke of Edinburgh (opens in a new window) event last night.
Things went really well for me in the United Arab Emirates. It was great to play some cricket and take a few wickets again.
Conditions out there were pretty intense. It seems obvious to say it but it was so hot! In my first proper bowling spell the heat really got to me.
After charging in for my fifth over in the 30 degree heat I started seeing stars and collapsed on the field. The physio ran on with an ice pack and I had to sit in the shade for a while to recover.
I was the butt of lots of jokes: along the lines of 'drama queen' - which I feel is unfair, seeing as it was batsmen giving out the stick. They should try and wrap on bowling boots and bowl 20-overs in a day, rather than being slumped over the willow!
It was really tough but being back in England, bowling in April, should be a breeze after that. If ever I'm feeling tired after a 10-over spell, I'll be able to reflect on Abu Dhabi - which should make me feel a lot better!
Getting called into the 30-man England squad for the ICC World Twenty20 almost had me seeing stars again. It was a real bolt from the blue.
Call-up 'bolt from the blue'
The first I knew about it 'Fletch', our media manager at Middlesex, called me up to ask if the BBC could interview me. At first I thought I was in trouble, I was thinking 'What have I done?' When he told me, it was a great surprise. I had no idea. I had to go online to double check.
It feels like a pat on the back for my efforts on the Lions tour but I'm not taking anything for granted. I'd really like to make the final 15 and will be doing everything I can between now and then to improve my chances.
A call-up like this is great for the confidence but I'm not thinking I've made it already. I'll just take my usual no inhibitions approach and hope I make the cut.
England v England
Playing against England, for the Lions, on the tour was an interesting experience. Luckily I'd done it before, playing in the Stanford Series for Middlesex, but it does feel odd bowling against the likes of Eoin Morgan - he's usually on my side!
You just have to treat it like any other game. They're a good side with quality players and I want to win whoever I play against.
Being able to tackle top international cricketers in a game like this, such as Kevin Pietersen, was a good way to assess where you are with your game at the moment.
England have a strong team, so breaking into that, in any format, will be really tough. I know the only way I'll do that is playing well for Middlesex and the Lions.
Despite already having a few matches under my belt, it's still pre-season. Middlesex coach Angus Fraser has lined up an army 'boot camp' for us.
We're going to visit the battlefield of the Somme - which should be a pretty humbling experience. Then it's four days of boot camp. No phones, no internet, nothing but training.
Hopefully it won't be as grim as it sounds. We have a bit of fun too. The other day we got one of our coaches, Luke, and wrapped him up in a load of padding - rugby scrum cap the lot - and put him in the nets against the bowling machine.
We cranked it up to 80mph to fire them down at him. One caught him in the ribs and the next one got him right on the head! He was not a happy camper.
My room-mate on the Lions tour was Chris Woakes. We were the new ball opening bowlers too and got on really well. He was a great room-mate. We could talk cricket (without overdoing it) and bounce ideas off one another.
We're totally different bowlers but I think we both felt we left the tour as better players than when we started.
As well as listening to him eat (it sounded very good all the time), we had some good banter and relaxed playing PSP and computer games.
We were known as the 'computer geek' room. We started a club! Me, Woakesy (Woakster) and David Wainwright (Davester), spent hours hiding away playing our games - much to the disgust of the old blokes in the team. They wanted to do old fashioned things such as 'conversing'. The youth of today aren’t interested in that!
It was Chris's 21st yesterday - happy birthday Woakesy!
More Finn Line
Steve Finn will be writing for Lords.org throughout the season as he plays for Middlesex, the England Lions and maybe England!
Keep up-to-date with Lords.org for more from 'The Finn Line'.