Ashes 2015: England’s Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn regain their venom

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Birmingham: For Jimmy Anderson, redemption came within two weeks. For Steve Finn, it took two years.

The two bowlers most responsible for Australia’s capitulation for 136 within 37 overs at Edgbaston both came into the match under pressure.

The pressure on Anderson did not involve his spot being in jeopardy. It more so related to his aura fading in the aftermath of recording his worst Ashes match figures at Lord’s: 0-137 from 33 overs.

The pressure on Finn was based on whether he had overcome the yips that beset him so badly in the 2013-14 Ashes series he did not play a match, and was eventually yanked off the tour and sent home for the benefit of the team and also himself after his radar was so awry he was hitting both sides of the nets in training.

“Such a big loss of form is sad for him and us,” explained England’s then limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles. “We are playing the most difficult series, and Steven is not selectable at the moment.”

Finn, playing because of an ankle injury to Mark Wood, was given an early vote of confidence when captain Alastair Cook removed Stuart Broad after three decent overs with the new ball in order to use the 25-year-old. By the end of his first over he had the prized wicket of Steve Smith, and soon after fired a yorker through the defences of Michael Clarke.

On the pitch that made the fast-bowlers, even Mitch Johnson, look pedestrian when they dropped short, Finn set himself apart from them. Chris Rogers had to be at his restrained best to avoid getting a tickle on a 144.4km/h delivery from Finn that roared across him and just past his shoulder.

The brevity of the Australian innings meant Finn only bowled a single spell, yet he offered enough within it to suggest he will be retained even once Wood has recovered.

While Rogers and Finn are adversaries for the match, the Australian was quick to commend the Englishman, whom he has played alongside at Middlesex. He lauded not only the way Finn bowled and the pace he generated but also that he had fallen so low in the two years since his preceding Test appearance and had emerged from that deep funk.

“I saw him when he was at his lowest. I think it was actually here [at Edgbaston]. He was probably in tears during a county game here. It’s a long way back,” Rogers explained after day one.

“Credit to him – but he’s the opposition at the moment.”

Finn’s tally of two wickets was trebled by Anderson. The leader of England’s pace attack elicited movement both off the pitch and through the air, to trigger his transition from worst Ashes match figures at Lord’s to his best Ashes innings figures, 6-47, at Edgbaston.

Anderson said he listened to England’s fast-bowling coach Ottis Gibson, who believed his lack of success in the Test at Lord’s was a byproduct of him “just ‘putting’ the ball there [on the pitch]”. He was eager to remedy that, and rapt that he did so on the opening day.

“After getting no wickets obviously your confidence takes a bit of a hit, so it’s nice to come into this game after the week I’ve had off and the work that I’ve done I felt like my confidence was pretty high,” he said. “My job is to take wickets, my job is to set the tone with the new ball, try and make it move if I can.”

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting praised Anderson for having induced “some confusion” among the Australian batting line-up, helping expose a middle order that he rated as “a little bit” fragile.

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