News that England’s most prolific Test wicket taker is likely to be ruled out of the Boxing Day opener against South Africa is very unwelcome for the tourists, though an almost forgotten face, back to fine form, could be the main beneficiary.
Results of a scan on his calf will determine whether or not James Anderson takes to the Kingsmead field in Durban, but with very little involvement in the build up to the four-match series, the Lancashire man’s chances look slender.
England head coach Trevor Bayliss and his team of selectors are not short of choices to support fellow strike bowler Stuart Broad in Anderson’s absence, with Mark Footitt, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan and Steven Finn all viable options.
While Woakes and Jordan have proved able seamers in the Test arena without lighting it up, Footitt would represent a sizeable gamble against the number-one ranked nation given the left-armer is yet to debut for England.
Rather, after a fine display in the tourists’ final warm-up game against South Africa A, it’s Finn who is best placed to step up to the plate down in the Rainbow Nation.
Finn announced his growing suitability to make a return in the pace-friendly conditions.
The Middlesex fast bowler ripped through the hosts’ middle order during the first innings, finding bounce and accuracy with cherry in hand.
Having once taken eight wickets against the Proteas in a Lord’s Test back in 2012, Finn is now finding the rhythm which once promised to make the now 26-year-old the future of England’s attack.
Considering the damage done in the first innings of the final warm-up game, if Finn does get the nod, then the 3/1 about the right-arm quick sending more men back to the shed than any other bowler in South Africa’s first innings, looks juicy.
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