Harris backs Finn to bounce back
7:08pm Wednesday 15th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Struggling seamer Steven Finn can take inspiration from England's Ashes tormentor Mitchell Johnson, according to county colleague James Harris.
Finn was left unused throughout England's miserable 5-0 Test defeat Down Under and has been sent home after just one match of the limited-overs leg, having lost his form to such an extent that coach Ashley Giles currently deems him "not selectable".
The road back to the top appears a long one for a 24-year-old who burst on to the international scene with a flurry of wickets, but Middlesex team-mate Harris sees Johnson's return to prominence as a model for Finn to replicate.
Johnson became a figure of fun for England's travelling fans during the 2010/11 Ashes, such was his lack of control, and was not included in Australia's squad for their 3-0 defeat last summer.
But he stormed back this winter, collecting the man-of-the-series honours for his 37 wickets.
Harris, who travels to Sri Lanka with England Lions later this month, said: "Steven will be gutted. There's nothing worse than things not going how you'd like, something not clicking technically.
"Finny's had the last couple of months trying to find something and that can get on top of you at times.
"He's got a bit of technical work to do but I spoke to (Middlesex director of cricket) Angus Fraser the other day and he said Finny had a chat with Mitchell Johnson.
"I think the same thing can happen for him. Johnson's gone from being completely off the radar to one of the hardest bowlers in the world to face. Finny's in that category.
"He'll be back in and flying and continue his international career."
Although Harris is quick to support Finn, he is equally appreciative of the fact that places in England's Test side are likely to be up for grabs in the coming months - starting with the Lions tour and carrying on to the early weeks of the county season.
James Anderson had a poor series in Australia but has enough credit in the bank to remain as the leader of the attack and Stuart Broad arguably enhanced his credentials but Finn, Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Boyd Rankin all went backwards during the Ashes.
Reflecting on the chances that lie in front of him and his fellow tourists, 23-year-old Harris said: "The Lions is almost a more exciting place to be than ever, with opportunities closer than they have been in previous years.
"Some good performances on a Lions trip and you could really push your case to be in the Test team come June.
"In past years there were one or maybe two places if you had a really good time, maybe there's a few more now.
"(Team director) Andy Flower is coming out to Sri Lanka for part of the tour, (batting coach) Graham Gooch is coming out for part of it and (national selector) James Whitaker as well.
"There are opportunities to show them first hand what you can do and if they like what they see there's a good chance you'll be in the team.
"At the start of the county season we're going to have six weeks with basically everyone (from the England squad) playing, how good is that going to be?
"The standard, certainly in Division One, will be as good as it's ever going to be. That's quite an exciting prospect."