Finn’s rebirth gains pace with England central deal

Ross McLean
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Steven Finn made his international return this summer against India
FORGOTTEN seamer Steven Finn will hope to rekindle his international credentials in the forthcoming year after the Middlesex paceman was included among the list of players to receive a central contract.

Finn was ditched from the England picture after being deemed unselectable following a nightmare Ashes tour last winter and was relegated to a season of county cricket to continue his bowling rehabilitation.

But the 25-year-old has clearly impressed the England hierarchy during a full summer under the guidance of Middlesex coach and ex-Test bowler Angus Fraser and his white ball renaissance against India in recent weeks.

Doubt has been cast on the international future of Finn’s Middlesex colleague Sam Robson, meanwhile, with the opener left without a deal despite partnering skipper Alastair Cook at the top of the order this summer, a move which suggests England may look elsewhere when Test cricket resumes with a three-Test series in West Indies in April.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior is also without a contract after stepping down from international duty in July with an achilles injury and subsequently usurped behind the stumps by Lancashire’s Jos Buttler.

The 32-year-old is not alone in having to potentially negotiate a salary with his county with Jonathan Trott, out of the international reckoning since December following anxiety issues, as well as the discarded Kevin Pietersen and all-rounder Tim Bresnan also seeing their deals torn up.

Buttler together with Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are the new recipients of contracts, with the message from England’s cricket chiefs focused on a fresh outlook.

“The awarding of contracts enables the selectors and team management to plan for the next 12 months of international cricket,” said national selector James Whitaker. “We have been hugely encouraged by the rapid development of a host of younger players in the last year and this is reflected in a total of six players being awarded 12-month central contracts for the first time.”

Usual suspects Cook, Stuart Broad, Ian Bell and James Anderson have all retained their central contracts as has influential batsman Joe Root.