Eighteen months ago a sobbing Steve Finn sat with a tracksuit top over his head at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, wondering if he could ever get back to being an international class fast bowler.
On Thursday the lanky paceman produced a fine spell that ripped through the Australian top order and yielded figures of 5-45 to reduce the tourists to 7-168, a lead of just 23 runs at Edgbaston.
But the story was so different when he last faced Michael Clarke’s side and was taken apart by Brad Haddin in the opening Test of the 2013 Ashes campaign, then axed from the side for the rest of the series and told to go back to county cricket to find some form.
Although he was selected for the return series in Australia three months later, so bad were his displays in the nets that he was considered “unselectable’ for the five Tests and subsequent one-day internationals that followed and sent home by the coaching staff following another wild net session in Brisbane.
But after two years in the Test wilderness where he has remodelled his run-up and action, ended with a surprise call up for Edgbaston.
It proved to be an inspired move by England with the 26-year-old taking two wickets in the first Australian innings and then 5-45 in their second to take his side to the cusp of victory with the tourists leading by just 22 runs with three wickets in hand.
Finn admitted there had been some dark times since his last appearance against Australia but felt he had come through the other side and was almost back to his best.
“Im enjoying playing cricket at the moment. I used to put myself under a huge amount of pressure when I went out there and played,” Finn said.
“At the moment, the way this environment is set up, we just want to go out there and enjoy it and play with smiles on our faces.
“After my first over went for 14 it wasn’t too easy to smile, but as the day went on I got that smile back and it felt good.”