Steven Finn has denied that England will have to overcome any demons when they return to the site of one of their worst-ever World Cup defeats this weekend.
England head back to the Wellington Regional Stadium, for a potentially-decisive clash with Sri Lanka, just a week after they were left humiliated by New Zealand.
After being skittled for 123 the England players helplessly watched on as the mood took Brendon McCullum to rattle the ball around the ‘Cake Tin’ and reel in the meagre target in just 12.2 overs.
Finn fared worst than most as his two overs cost a remarkable 49 runs. McCullum sent half of his 12 deliveries over the rope.
“In that situation, against New Zealand, McCullum was always going to come hard and it seemed that everything I tried to do didn’t quite work,” Finn said.
“When you’re bowling and it’s disappearing over your head for six it’s not a nice feeling, you feel like a wally when you’re out there, but it happened and it’s in the past now.
“There are no demons there. We’ve played there before, I’ve bowled there before, and we’ve beaten New Zealand there in a Twenty20 in 2013.
“We’re disappointed with the way we played there against New Zealand but that makes us more determined to alleviate that in this next game.”
The heavy back-to-back defeats against Australia and New Zealand powerfully illustrated the gap England must bridge if they are to have any hope of lifting a first World Cup title in Melbourne on March 29.
Finn is determined not to shy away from any deficiencies that might have been exposed in those games, adding: “I’m obviously very disappointed, gutted and embarrassed about the way it did happen.
“It will happen again. Someone will come that hard at us again but we’ll have to find a way of dealing with it. It was one of those days but I’ve bowled well throughout this trip and have taken wickets so I don’t feel too downhearted by it.
“I’ve put it to the back of my mind now and I’m thinking about the next three games.”
Finn has been England’s leading wicket-taker since arriving down under having claimed 19 in eight matches.
He was second only to Australia left-armer Mitchell Starc on the wicket-takers list during the Tri-Series while he is in the top-five at the World Cup, which included his almost unheralded hat-trick on the opening night in Melbourne.
The 25-year-old arguably bowled his best, however, in taking 3-26 in the win against Scotland as he bounced straight back from his Wellington horror show.
“I feel like I bowled well throughout the Tri-Series but didn’t quite do myself justice and in the first seven overs against Australia I thought I bowled well,” he said. “Obviously I didn’t do myself justice in those two overs against New Zealand but throughout the trip I feel as though I’ve been bowling well and against Scotland it was pleasing to get the results that the hard work deserves.”
It was only a year ago that Finn was sent home from the tour of Australia after then one-day coach Ashley Giles deemed him “unselectable” as he struggled for rhythm.
After a difficult summer spent almost entirely away from the England set-up, Finn admits he is just happy to be pulling on his country’s colours again. But perhaps more importantly he is starting to feel more like the young bowler who was tipped for a rapid rise as the wickets start to flow back.
“I feel normal. I’ve felt normal all the time but the amount of wickets I’ve taken over here have helped get that confidence back,” he said.
“Just playing international cricket and being in the set-up and around the guys day-in and day-out helps that confidence too.
“To put performances in and help England win games helps that confidence as well. So I’m just a normal cricketer playing cricket now. That’s all it is.”
England spent yesterday’s practice session, at the picturesque Karori Cricket Club nestled among the hills in Wellington’s western suburbs, working on their death-over drills.
The squad split into two groups, training in the morning and afternoon respectively, and Finn believes the sessions are vital to nailing an area of the game that has become problematic for most teams.
Finn thinks developing an instinct for what batsmen are likely to do in the final 10 overs is the major benefit of the sessions, over any set-in-stone plans.
“Instinct is one of the most important things in cricket,” Finn said.
“I hate it when things are preconceived because it becomes too predictable and too obvious.
“You have to think on your feet, the best cricketers in the world do that, certainly the best bowlers in the world, and find a delivery that’s working on that wicket against that batsmen.
“That’s a skill in itself and it’s something we have to get better at.”