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Middlesex will help Finn with stumps problem
Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, has said the club will support Steven Finn in his efforts to adjust to bowling off a shortened run-up. Finn took match figures of 6 for 85 in his first outing of the season against Derbyshire, despite at times struggling to find his rhythm, and Fraser said they would continue to work on technical aspects of his bowling after Finn made changes to his run-up on England's tour of New Zealand.
Finn's pace was impressive and clearly unsettled Derbyshire's batsmen in a nine-wicket victory at Lord's, though Fraser said he "can bowl better". The shortened run-up is part of Finn's attempts to stop colliding with the stumps in his delivery stride - an infringement that will be called a no-ball in international cricket from the end of April - and in the match programme, the Middlesex chief executive, Vinny Codrington, alluded to what was presumably a lively exchange on the subject between bowler and coach.
"The conversation between Angus Fraser and Steven over his 'new' run-up would probably have sold tickets had it been in public," Codrington wrote. Fraser, however, laughed off any suggestions of a disagreement, stressing that Finn's wishes were paramount.
"It's difficult when you're watching it from afar, especially from the other side of the world," Fraser said, of first seeing the new run-up on television while England were on tour. "Your vision is that it's shorter than it is - it's not as short as I thought. It's five yards shorter than it was so it's not as though he's cut his run-up in half.
"We had a chat, I've got some views but they're between me and Steven. But he seems happy with it, he wants to go ahead and work with it and we'll support him. England are very keen that he does it and ultimately he's their player."
Finn took ten wickets at 39.20 in the three Tests against New Zealand, as the pace attack failed to make the expected impression in a drawn series, and with the Champions Trophy and back-to-back Ashes series on the horizon, England will hope Finn gets used to the adjustments soon. Fraser's guidance will be important in that process and although he has not discussed the changes with David Saker, England's bowling coach, he emphasised his backing for Finn, who at 24 has become a key figure for his country in all three international formats.
"It's difficult for Steven, he's a young man still finding his way, learning all the time as a bowler and he's going through this process in front of everybody's eyes," Fraser said. "A lot of other bowlers did a lot of bowling when they were young with their counties, found their rhythm, knew what they were about. Steven is such an outstanding young fast bowler that he's going through that development in international cricket and still being very, very competitive.
"I haven't spoken to David Saker, I've spoken to Steven. You just want what's best for Steven, if he's happy with it that's the main thing."
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo