Two England players whose Test careers looked to have been ended by Australia are set to face the rejuvenated tourists in the third Ashes Test, with Steve Finn in line for a recall along with Jonny Bairstow.
With Mark Wood is battling an ankle injury, England captain Alastair Cook revealed Finn could play at Edgbaston on Wednesday with the series locked at one-all following Australia’s thumping 405-run win at Lord’s last week.
Wood was unable to bowl in the outdoor nets on Tuesday due to heavy rain in Birmingham, and Cook said a decision would be made on his fitness on the morning of the match.
Finn has not played a Test since being savaged by the Australian batsman in the Ashes opener at Trent Bridge two years ago.
Although England won the match by 14 runs, the gangly paceman struggled terribly and finished with unflattering match figures of 2-117 from his 25 overs and was then axed for the remainder of the series.
He was selected for a return in Australia later that year, but failed to break into a team that was demolished 5-0 then sent home early – his bowling deemed not good enough to play in the one-day international series.
Despite his previous struggles, Cook believes Finn has recovered his form and confidence after impressing against New Zealand in last month’s one-day series.
“We are a little bit concerned about Woody and will have to make that call tomorrow,” Cook said.
“Finny has bowled really well for Middlesex this season and also in the recent one-dayers with New Zealand,” Cook said.
Bairstow, who last played a Test in Sydney 18 months ago, is the form of his life, having scored two centuries, a double ton and an unbeaten 74 in his last three county matches for Yorkshire.
“He’ll be full of confidence, but I would hope the attack he’s about to face is a little bit different to what he’s faced in county cricket,” Michael Clarke said.
Like Finn, Bairstow was exposed by the Australians in 2013/14, passing 50 just once in nine innings and scoring a duck on his last visit to the crease in the fifth Test in Sydney.
However, Cook is confident the 25-year-old is ready to prosper at Test level.
“He toured with us in the Caribbean and scored a brilliant 90 in St Kitts during a mixed match and was unrecognisable,” he said.
“He has certainly allowed to improve and he couldn’t be in a better place.”