No risks with Finn fitness

  • Last Updated: September 6 2012, 15:56 BST

England are taking no chances with the fitness of Steven Finn as they begin to fine-tune preparations for the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown.

Steven Finn: Has a back probelm

The fast bowler complained of a stiff back on Wednesday, and was therefore replaced by Chris Woakes for England's final NatWest Series match against South Africa, and now James Anderson has been added to the squad as like-for-like cover for Finn in three NatWest Twenty20 Internationals against the same opponents.

Finn was a revelation on England's otherwise unsuccessful one-day international tour of India last autumn, and has consistently been their best white-ball bowler ever since.

The 23-year-old must, however, rate a significant doubt to take part in at least the first of three matches in six days against South Africa - at the Emirates Durham ICG on Saturday.

It was at the Chester-le-Street venue that Finn caught the eye especially two months ago when he recorded figures of four for 37 to set up an eight-wicket victory over Australia, which was part of England's 4-0 NatWest Series trouncing of their Ashes rivals.

He earned conspicuous praise from Australia captain Michael Clarke, and given the form Finn has already shown on the sub-continent, his presence for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka this month and next will be highly-prized by England.

It was already clear, after Finn's absence on Wednesday from what turned out to be a seven-wicket hammering as South Africa levelled the ODI series at Trent Bridge, that he would not be unduly risked.

Captain Alastair Cook said: "He wasn't fit to play. If he was, we'd have played him.

"You do have to be careful with the amount of cricket coming up. It was a very sensible decision, I think.

"It would have looked quite stupid if he'd tried to play and it had then suddenly got worse."

There is no suggestion that has happened yet. But England have nonetheless taken the precaution of calling in Anderson, frontline in Tests and ODIs but peripheral in the shortest format.

The Lancastrian last played a Twenty20 for his country almost three years ago, and was surplus to requirements when England won their inaugural International Cricket Council global tournament in the Caribbean in 2010.

Cook, meanwhile, can leave the Twenty20 action - and planning - to others, after making a half-century in vain in his final match of the summer.

England's Test and ODI captain cannot sign off, however, without attending to perhaps his most urgent business of the whole year.

With his playing duties concluded until England set off at the end of next month for four Tests in India, Cook is available to enter negotiations on the playing future of Kevin Pietersen.

The various disagreements and points of conflict between Pietersen and his employers have made for an especially vexed summer - which will culminate in next week's decision of whether to begin the South Africa-born batsman's reintegration into the England team by naming him in the squad to tour India.

Coach Andy Flower has reportedly already held an initial face-to-face meeting with Pietersen, of whom the England and Wales Cricket Board require contrition for perceived unreasonable behaviour - principally, but not exclusively, centring on the texts he sent to opposition players from his native country during the Headingley Test.

Pietersen was subsequently dropped for England's final-Test defeat at Lord's, and is very much on the outside looking in until peace can be brokered.

Cook, who replaced the retired Andrew Strauss as Test captain only last week, has confirmed already that it is time for him to meet Pietersen too to work out the way forward.

"I haven't really been thinking about it too much, with the one-day series on," he said.

"Over the next couple of weeks, it's certainly an issue which we as the ECB will have to get resolved.

"It is a situation which does need to get resolved. There is stuff which needs to be talked about behind closed doors. That will happen."

It is not clear whether Pietersen's inclusion or omission from England's next squad will be definitive - ECB's annual central contracts are also due to be signed at the end of this month.

But apart from the identity of Cook's new opening partner, following Strauss' retirement, most informed observers would stumble only over one name in a likely 16 to travel to India.

Asked if he already knows who he wants in his squad, Cook said: "I'm pretty clear.

"Over the next few days, we have to sit down (and discuss it)."

Jonathan Trott, ruled out of what remains of the English summer after breaking a bone in his right hand, is expected to be available.

The ultra-reliable number three would not be required anyway for England's imminent Twenty20 challenges. But his absence on Wednesday was significant as a string of batsmen fell to unwise or poorly-fashioned shots on the way to heavy defeat.

"Trotty has been a major part for us, ever since he's come into this one-day side," said Cook.

"You're always going to miss players of his calibre.

"Clearly it gave an opportunity for people to step up and take that place, but it just shows what a valuable member he is to the side."