When it started on Sunday morning, Steve Finn was facing a ruined international career after a miserable winter. All the talk here was how the England bowling coaches have tweaked with his run up, action and confidence with catastrophic consequences.
|Steve Finn on his way back???|
And when he started bowling on Sunday afternoon, the signs were not good. Droopy shoulders, slow run up and sluggish delivery. His first four overs went for 20 overs and he was taken off, confidence shaken further.
|Nice work Matty!|
Matt Prior too had a miserable winter - like all of us really - where he looked nothing like the match winning gladiator he'd been in 2012. He had gone for more than a year without making any significant runs and needed to rattle off some impressive runs to shove Jos Butler or Jonny Bairstow off the keeper stage.
When he came into bat, he scratched around and none of his attempts at the big shots came off in the first few overs. Ironically Finn gave him a few loose deliveries to get his confidence up and there was one widish ball that Prior lent into beautifully and drove to the boundary with immaculate timing.
Many of us decided at that very point that Prior was back! But we were a bit premature....he was dropped twice on his way to a half century and again on 55 so the luck controller was looking out for him. But by the time he got to the hundred - the first century of the county championship season - the technique and power were working together in glorious harmony.
Textbook cover drives were purposefully struck, the cutting to third man was beautifully judged and gently executed and his hooking was a little agricultural but effective, until James Harris put paid to the entertainment with a super catch at square leg.
Big sighs of relief and a standing ovation as Prior strolled off the field,125 runs better off, bat under his arm and smile on his face.
There was a smile too on Finn's face since Prior was his fourth wicket in a day's exhertions that will have gone a long way to fast tracking his long haul out of the doldrums. There was more pace and more intent...and more wickets...4-67 from 17 overs after being 0-20 from four overnight.
Hoorah....a good day for England someone said!