Interview: England bowler Steven Finn previews The Ashes

As the start of The Ashes approaches, Sports Mole looks ahead to the series with England bowler Steven Finn.

After months of talking, the wait for The Ashes to get underway is almost over.

On Wednesday morning, Australia and holders England will meet at Trent Bridge in the first of five Test encounters to determine the destination of the famous little urn.

Prior to the clash, Sports Mole caught up with England bowler and ambassador for ESPN Classic's Ashes coverage Steven Finn to preview the next six weeks of what is one of the biggest rivalries in sport.

As a team England are unbeaten at Test level since the first meeting with India back in November. Would it be right to assume that confidence is high as a result?
"Our preparations have been good. We had some important Test matches against New Zealand earlier in the summer when we wanted to put our marker down. We're lucky enough to have not lost a Test match since that opener in India which has given us some momentum heading into this Ashes series."

What about yourself? You were among the wickets against New Zealand. How do you rate your own form heading into this series?
"I do feel as though I'm in good form. Earlier in the season I was striving for a few technical changes that I thought would make a difference and I think that they are starting to come to fruition now. Leading into this game next week, I feel like I've been bowling well recently. If I'm picked then hopefully I can make a difference."

Steven Finn celebrates claiming the wicket of Michael Clarke during the 2010 Ashes.© PA Photos

Is The Ashes still the pinnacle for an English cricketer?
"I'd certainly say so. We are brought up on a diet of Ashes series and a bitter rivalry with Australia. I'd say that the Ashes series is the biggest thing that you can play in as an English cricketer and I cannot wait for the next six weeks."

You got a taste of an Ashes series out in Australia back in 2010 and 2011, but how much are you looking forward to experiencing it in front of a home crowd?
"It's something that I haven't experienced before. Having seen how loud and passionate the crowds were over in Australia for us, I can only feel that it will be escalated for us over here. I'm very much looking forward to getting involved in the series. Obviously the supporters will play a big part in creating an atmosphere in the grounds."

Will playing at home in front of an expectant crowd, as well as the media, increase the pressure on the team?
"There is always pressure whenever you go into a Test match or a Test series - especially when it is at home for us. We've got such a good Test record at home so there is always pressure for us to win. It will be no different. We respect the Australians, but we know if we play our very best cricket, we are capable of winning this Ashes series and that is what we have to focus on."

English cricket fans celebrate in Sydney.© PA Photos

Some people have written the Australians off already, but as you say, England will have to be at their best to win the series, won't they?
"Certainly. By no means can you write off the Australians. They are a very talented bunch of cricketers and have some highly-skilled players. They are going to be dangerous. As I say, we respect them, but if we are the top of our game, we can win."

One thing that was noticeable during the last Ashes tour in Australia was how close-knit the team seemed to be. By the end everyone was involved in Graeme Swann's sprinkler celebration for example. How crucial is it to have that togetherness and is it still as strong now?
"We spend a lot of time together so you develop that camaraderie as you go around the world travelling and playing cricket. We spend a lot of time in each other's pockets and that makes us good friends. We are lucky that we all get on and we all enjoy each other's company. It's even better when we are out there enjoying someone's success when they do well - all the other players in the team are genuinely happy for him. It's a very important thing to have in a successful team."

It does seem at times that you are the butt of the jokes, particularly from Swann...
"I'm lucky that Joe Root and Tim Bresnan are around at the moment! It's very easy to make fun of two silly Yorkshiremen! In all seriousness, occasionally I'm the butt of the jokes but I think everyone is at some stage."

Steven Finn and Graeme Swann pose with The Ashes urn.© PA Photos

You mentioned Root there - he may only be 22, but he has been tipped to open the batting next week. Despite being so young, he comes across as a confident player - would that be fair to say?
"He's dealt with pressure very well so far in his career and he has had an excellent start to his international career. It's been fully deserved, but he works very hard. He puts in the hours off the pitch to make sure that his performances on the pitch are up to scratch. He's been excellent since he came into the team in India and he hasn't really looked back. I'm sure if he is asked to open next week it is something that he will take in his stride."

And what about two of your fellow bowlers - Swann and Stuart Broad? They are both back from injury now. How important is it to have them back in the team?
"It's greatly important. We are lucky to have a pretty settled team when it comes to Test cricket, just with the odd change here and there. Those two guys have been very important performers for us over the last four or five years so they are key to have in the team. It's great that they are both 100% fit for next week."

How do you rate the strength of English bowling overall? As well as yourself, Swann and Broad there are the likes of James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Boyd Rankin. It seems as though there are a number of options.
"There is plenty of options for us. All of us in that pool of bowlers are very much aware that you need a squad of strong bowlers to be able to win an Ashes series. It's inevitable that you won't play the same team for all five Test matches because of injuries or loss of form. We all feel very much a part of the team and it is greatly important for the strength of English cricket that we have those bowling reserves."

Steven Finn, James Anderson and Graeme Swann celebrate against South Africa.© PA Photos

Another bowler and someone you saw up close for Essex last week was Tymal Mills. He showed some serious pace during the match. Do you think we may have seen an England international of the future?
"Most definitely. He was very impressive, especially for such a young player. To be able to bowl that quick consistently is not easy as all of us have found when you play a lot of cricket. It's hard to maintain that sort of pace. To come in and bowl regularly 90mph on that slow wicket and rush people like he did was a very impressive effort. I'm sure that we will be hearing much more of his name in the future."

Finally, how much are you looking forward to the next six weeks on a personal level?
"Very much so. When you are growing up and you get involved in Ashes series as a youngster and you watch it on television or read about it in the newspaper - people all around the county are getting encapsulated by it. It's going to be great to feel that first-hand. I'm really looking forward to the six weeks and hopefully it will be a successful next six weeks."

ESPN Classic will broadcast extensive Ashes programming every weeknight throughout July, celebrating one of the fiercest rivalries in international sport. Visit espnclassic.com for details.

Alastair Cook leaves the field after being caught out by BJ Watling on May 16, 2013
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