Angus Fraser believes Steven Finn’s impressive performances in India have put him in genuine contention to regain his England Test spot against Pakistan in 2012.
Finn was England’s best bowler in their dismal 5-0 ODI series defeat against the world champions, taking eight wickets at 31.62, and also took 3-22 in the one-off T20 match - which England won.
Fraser, speaking exclusively to Lords.org was full of praise for Finn's efforts.
“Steven looked a class act during the series,” said Fraser, now Managing Director of Cricket at Finn’s county Middlesex.
“He probably bowled better than his figures suggested and they were pretty decent as it was.
“He looked good technically, and crucially he was hitting a good line and length and seemed in total control of what he was doing.
“He has made a pretty big statement, leading the attack in the way that he did in the absence of Stuart Broad and with Tim Bresnan down on form.
“Steven will be pushing hard for a Test place against Pakistan.”
Finn made a stunning start to his Test career after his debut against Bangladesh in 2010, but it stalled in Australia last winter.
Despite taking 12 wickets in the first three Tests as England went in pursuit of regaining the Ashes, Finn was dropped in favour of Tim Bresnan for the decisive two matches.
He played just one Test in England in 2011, against Sri Lanka at Lord's when James Anderson suffered an injury.
Fraser, who played 46 Tests for England between 1989 and 1998, admitted he’d agreed with the decision to drop Finn, who he has mentored for the past three seasons.
“I always said that I agreed with the decision to leave him out after Perth because he wasn’t doing the job the selectors asked him to do entirely,” he added.
“He was doing part of it but not it all and he needed to go away and improve aspects of his game.
“He has done that and he’s aware that each time he goes out to bowl someone will be looking at his figures so he can’t let himself down.”
Despite being in and out of the England side for much of 2011, Finn played a strong role for his county, as Middlesex won the LV County Championship second division, with 31 wickets at 21.32 from seven appearances.
Fraser though, admits Finn found his 2011 summer a frustrating one.
He added: “It was an interesting season for Steven because he hasn’t really got going.
“I know he was a bit frustrated towards the back end of the year because he was being taken to quite a few of the England games and not playing and then missing cricket with us because of it.
“That’s something you’ve got to live with as an England cricketer.
“But even so, Steven didn’t feel as if he was getting the figures which showed the improvement we knew he had made and that was a bit frustrating for him.”
That improvement was abundantly clear in India though, as Finn bowled with the kind of pace and accuracy which caused the batsmen to worry – even on docile tracks.
Finn ended the summer as fifth choice to play in the three man Test attack, with Bresnan the latest to stake his claim as England climbed to the summit of the ICC rankings.
But the 22-year-old, who will play domestic first-class cricket in New Zealand with Otago Volts before Christmas, is once again knocking on the selectors’ door.
“I think there has been a bit of a shift actually,” Fraser predicted.
“Sat here two months ago I’d have envisaged that Steven may be in a similar position next summer to the one he was in this summer, with perhaps four seam bowlers ahead of him.
“I would say he’s made a pretty strong case in the one-day matches though, to be quite a bit higher up that list.
“2012 could be an exciting year for him. The India trip was just one tour – but one which has made a big impression on people.”