Steven Finn has been called up to the England squad for the first time since his Ashes nightmare as a replacement for injured paceman Liam Plunkett for the fourth Test against India.
Finn endured a torrid time Down Under over the winter, with his bowling regressing to the point where he was deemed unselectable, despite England suffering an Ashes whitewash defeat.
Yet he has shown signs of his best form on his return for Middlesex this season and that is enough to convince England selectors he deserves his chance to prove himself on the international stage once again, with Plunkett continuing to suffer from an ankle complaint.
“Liam Plunkett experienced some left ankle discomfort at the end of the second Investec Test and will miss the fourth Test as this continues to settle,” said a short statement on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s official website.
“He will be replaced by Steven Finn in the squad for the upcoming Test at Emirates Old Trafford.”
While Finn has represented England’s limited-overs sides in the past year, he has not played a Test since July 2013 against Australia at Trent Bridge and had fallen some way down the pecking order.
But he is the fourth highest wicket-taker in the LV= County Championship Division One this season, with 44 scalps in his 10 matches at an average of just under 30.
He will now be hoping to reward the selectors’ faith, if chosen, and add to his haul of 90 wickets in 23 Tests this week, with the Investec series against India finely poised at 1-1 with two more matches to play.
Plunkett, meanwhile, will be hoping to recover in order to play a role in the fifth Test at the Kia Oval, which gets under way on August 15.
The 29-year-old Yorkshire paceman has impressed on his return to the side with 18 wickets in four matches – including a Test best five for 64 against Sri Lanka – but was rested from the third Test at Southampton and replaced by Chris Jordan.
Finn’s replacement in the England Lions squad for the triangular series against New Zealand A and Sri Lanka A will be Warwickshire fast bowler Boyd Rankin, the ECB later announced.
Middlesex’s managing director of cricket Angus Fraser, who took 177 wickets in 46 Tests for England, believes Finn’s call-up is fully warranted.
The 48-year-old was also keen to highlight the work of the county’s assistant and bowling coach Richard Johnson, a former Test player himself, for Finn’s improvement.
“Steven’s call up is thoroughly deserved and is reward for all the hard work he has put in over the past six months,” Fraser said.
“During the summer his bowling has continued to improve and he has met and come through every challenge that has been placed in front of him.
“Congratulations must go to Steven and Richard Johnson for getting to this position. I am extremely proud of the work they have done as Steven was not in a very good place at all when he returned from Australia in January.”