Steven Finn praises Stokes and McCullum for changing England's culture

Steven Finn praises Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for changing the culture around team selection… and tips Josh Tongue to be England’s Ashes secret weapon

  • The 34-year-old said he ‘moped’ when he wasn’t selected for the national side
  • But Bazball revolution has helped foster a more supportive culture for England
  • Josh Tongue had a flying start to his international career against Ireland in June 

Steven Finn openly admits he moped around when not selected during an England career which incorporated serial Ashes wins, and reckons the contrasting lack of histrionics in the current set-up could be key to the chances of Ben Stokes lifting the urn in seven weeks’ time.

Amongst the highs of an up and down international career was a man-of-the-match performance eight years against Australia at Edgbaston, where the five-match series opens on Friday, but in between that eight-wicket haul and featuring in the 2010-11 victory, he was also deemed un-selectable on the 2013-14 Ashes trip.

And the squad unity that Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum have fostered suggests there will be no whingeing from those overlooked for the XI in Birmingham.

‘This management has done something quite unique in the sense that they’re not going to have people kicking off about not playing. The thing about when you’re left out – and in the early part of my career when I got left out, I dragged my bottom lip around, I sulked – is it can be sapping to the dressing room,’ Finn said.

‘One, I don’t think this management will allow it. But two, they encourage people to buy into the ethos of “you’re not picked now, we’re going to be upfront with you about why, we’re going to keep you completely in the loop and you’re going to play a part at some stage in the series.”

Steven Finn has praised Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for fostering a positive culture within the England camp

The pair have overseen the Bazball revolution, which will be put to the test against Australia

‘(It) gives them the option to pick horses for courses. In the past, a senior player like Stuart Broad has been quite openly frustrated when he’s missed games, but I think he’s said that he’s open to the idea of not playing all five games.

‘To give themselves the opportunity to keep everyone happy and pick the bowlers they deem fit, they might turn up to Edgbaston and, if it’s a bit more grassy than they suppose, they go for Broad or if it looks flatter and drier, they go with Mark Wood. They’ve got buy-in from everyone in the squad to do that.’

The 34-year-old Sussex fast bowler did not enjoy the pressure of limiting runs to three an over during his 125-wicket Test journey, and has therefore cast an envious eye towards the prioritising of knocking over rather than bottling up opponents in the Bazball era.

And he believes Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue, fresh from getting his name on the Lord’s honours board against Ireland, will be one of the bowlers England unleash against the Australians.

‘I see him having some sort of impact at some stage of the series. I thought it was impressive the way he kept his pace up,’ Finn said.

‘I liked the angle of his arm slightly beyond the perpendicular, giving him a different angle of attack compared to the other right-arm-over-the-wicket bowlers.

Finn tipped Josh Tongue to impress after a flying start against Ireland at Lords in June

‘He showed great character; did the hard yards banging it in when he had to and showed discipline and skill when he came back to hitting a good length. I liked what I saw. He looked strong and he’ll only have benefitted from the experience of playing that Test match. It was the right decision to play him and give him that exposure in Test match cricket in that Test match as opposed to asking him to make his debut in an Ashes series.’

Finn also revealed Tongue, 25, made a strong impression pre-international call on Australia batting star Steve Smith, after dismissing his temporary county colleague in a Division Two match earlier this season.

‘Smith said: “I think he looks like a good bowler.” Three weeks later, he’s playing Test cricket and took five-for. The confidence that someone like Tongue will have gained from bowling at him and getting him out far outweighs the negatives of him being here and playing three first-class games before an Ashes series – because he’s good enough to be able to adapt whether he plays three games or one game.’

Steven Finn was speaking at an IG Net Gains campaign launch to invest in new public net facilities in 20 locations across the country

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