KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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England's latest Test player and exclusive Lords.org columnist, Steve Finn, writes about his first two Test matches - both wins - in Bangladesh.
It was a fantastic surprise to be called up to the England Test team so I headed out there just expecting to carry the drinks really - and to be grateful even for that chance.
Just after I got off a long flight via Dubai I was pitched into the warm-up game against Bangladesh A. It didn't make sense to risk playing the injured lads [Graham Onions and Stuart Broad], they could have just made their injuries worse - so I was thrown in.
Obviously I was really excited to play. I knew conditions in Bangladesh tend not to favour seamers but bowling well is about so much more than taking wickets.
I tried to bowl well, with control but being threatening too - building pressure on the batsmen. I came off the field thinking it had gone pretty well but still not expecting to be in the Test team.
In the Test team
Then, the day before the Test, Alastair Cook told me I was in the team. That was it really, no speeches. He told me I knew what to do and just to get myself ready. I didn't sleep as well as I usually do that night!
It was a good feeling, walking out onto the field as a Test player, but I tried not to think about that too much.
My preparation is the same whether I'm playing for a club side, Middlesex or for a Test match. I'd been picked for what I'd done up to that point so there was no need to start doing anything massively different.
I wasn't the only debutant, Michael Carberry got his first cap that day in Chittagong too. It was nice not to be alone in that regard but once the game starts you're on your own really - especially as a bowler.
It was a great effort by the team - which I like to think I contributed too - and it was good to come away with a win and a couple of wickets under my belt.
It was the same story in Mirpur really. Though I thought I'd done well I wasn't expecting to be in the team again for the next match.
To come away with another win and two more wickets was brilliant. Best of all my batting was unscathed! That doughty 10-ball nought in Mirpur leaves my scorecard unblemished!
Sledging & Avatars
The whole England team were very welcoming it was fun to be involved.
It was a tough situation for the team as we were expected to win hands down as it was 'just Bangladesh'.
They've got some talented players though, some very gifted batsmen especially and we knew they wouldn't roll over and let us win.
Some of the guys took some stick in the press for sledging but it wasn't a pre-set plan. It's Test cricket. You have to get yourself up for it however you normally do.
It's a battle, especially as a bowler. You do all you can to get that batsman out and if you think 'getting in his ear' a bit will help then that's what you do - it's no different to county cricket or any other level I've played at.
So long as you don't overstep the mark it's part of the game.
Off the field, as I was one of the new boys, the lads were all trying to come up with nicknames for me.
Paul Collingwood tried out "Shark" or "Cough" as plays on my surname - tried and trusted. Then Graeme Swann came up with 'Avatar' as he said Stuart Broad and I looked like characters from the movie as we're both so tall and thin. It stuck.
By the end of the tour everyone was calling us "the Avatars", suggesting we could paint ourselves blue and go to a fancy dress party as Na'vi.
Next on the horizon is the ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean. It's been such a whirlwind few weeks I don't even know when the final 15-man squad is announced.
As far as I'm concerned I'm back now and training and playing for Middlesex. Anything else that comes my way is a bonus.
More Finn Line
Steve Finn will be writing for Lords.org throughout the season as he plays for Middlesex, the England Lions and England.
Keep up-to-date with Lords.org for more from 'The Finn Line'.