England bowling coach Ottis Gibson believes seamer Steven Finn deserves a similar billing to esteemed new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad after propelling the tourists to a position of strength against South Africa in Johannesburg yesterday.
Middlesex’s Finn was the pick of the England bowlers on day one of the third Test, claiming 2-50, as an underwhelming morning session gave way to a more destructive rhythm, with South Africa reduced from 117-1 to 267-7 at the close.
Test cricket has not been plain sailing for Finn, who returned during the summer’s Ashes from a two-year absence, but moved to 112 wickets as England bid to secure an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
“Since he came back into the team during the Ashes he has certainly proven himself to be an outstanding bowler,” said Gibson.
“There is a lot said about [Stuart] Broad and [James] Anderson but when Finn gets the ball in his hand he looks quality and someone you can see playing a huge part for England in the coming years.”
On a pitch offering more pace and bounce for the bowlers than those in Durban or Cape Town, England were guilty of failing to utilise that added encouragement early in proceedings.
South Africa added 44 runs for the first wicket before Stokes induced Stiaan van Zyl into a misjudged pull shot, which paved the way for fellow opener Dean Elgar and former skipper Hashim Amla to unite for a stand of 73.
The tourists surged back after lunch with a steady stream of wickets, while Jonny Bairstow became the first England wicketkeeper since Jack Russell to have a hand in the first four wickets of a Test innings.
“The dressing room is buzzing for Jonny because we have seen how hard he works and when he makes a mistake he takes it personally,” added Gibson.
A number of South Africa batsmen made starts but failed to capitalise. Elgar departed for 46 and Amla 40, before newly-installed captain AB de Villiers became Stokes’ second victim while on 36.
The Proteas were 225-7 after the dismissal of Dane Vilas, a last-minute replacement for the injured Quinton de Kock, although an unbeaten partnership of 42 between Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada boosted South Africa.