Finch savours SA experience

Harry Finch at the crease for England under-19s in South Africa
Harry Finch at the crease for England under-19s in South Africa

Hastings Priory cricketer Harry Finch has spoken of his delight at being part of a winning Test team at South Africa’s famous Newlands ground.

The Sussex Academy star has just returned home from the England under-19 tour in the ‘Rainbow Nation’, which saw him and his team-mates compete in two Test matches and five one day internationals.

As well as the action on the field, Finch turned 18 while he was out there and got stuck into some eye-opening charity work at a local school. The highlight of Finch’s tour, though, was that first Test in Cape Town, where England were victorious by 107 runs and the Priory lad helped himself to five wickets.

“It was a fantastic experience,” Finch said. “A 17-year-old guy, winning as part of a touring side at Newlands and taking five wickets; it is something I will obviously never forget. The first Test win felt like the day Priory won the (Sussex) league (back in 2011, when they defeated Horsham on the final day of the season), it was brilliant.”

After the high of the first Test, England lost the second match to draw the series before being beaten in all five ODIs.

“It went a bit downhill,” Finch admitted. “We should’ve won the second Test. They then outplayed us in two of the ODIs but the middle three were quite even. We were unlucky there.”

Finch’s role in the side also changed due to an injury to England captain Shiv Thakor, meaning he was moved up the batting order in the Tests. “I went from six to three,” Finch said. “It meant changing my game plan but it was a good, different and difficult challenge for me on those wickets.”

The St Leonards youngster turned 18 on February 10 during one of the rain-delayed one day games. The squad then travelled together to a local school and completed some charity work with children.

“Two days after my birthday, we were playing,” Finch said. “I looked up and all of a sudden my dad was in the crowd. I couldn’t believe it. I knew my nan and granddad were there, but that was a nice surprise for me.

“Then towards the end we did the charity work. It was a real eye-opener, and put things into perspective for us after the way we’d been treated and looked after all tour.”

Finch is part of the Sussex squad for the coming campaign and will hope to secure a full-time professional contract for the 2014 season. He still aims to play 8-12 games for Priory too and will also tour Sri Lanka soon with Eastbourne College.