England v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 3rd day May 26, 2013

Swann, Finn prove England have a Plan B


England 354 and 116 for 1 (Cook 88*, Trott 11*) lead New Zealand 174 (Swann 4-42, Finn 3-36) by 296 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

If not, perhaps, quite a perfect day for England, but a day when several pieces of their pre-Ashes jigsaw fell into place with a satisfying click.

Most pertinently, this was a day when England proved their bowling attack had a Plan B. While it is routinely suggested that, when the ball does not swing, the England bowling attack looks toothless and one dimensional, here they showed that they have what it takes to damage opposition sides when there is no such help.

With James Anderson and Stuart Broad - the destroyers of New Zealand at Lord's - struggling to gain the same seam or swing movement, it was left to Graeme Swann and Steven Finn to find another way through the tourists' batting. With Finn generating impressive pace and maintaining a hostile line and length and Swann demonstrating beguiling drift and sharp turn, England ended the day having inked in their first choice bowling attack for the Ashes.

Swann cannot have the fondest memories of this ground. He had never previously taken a Test wicket here and, a year ago, was dropped for the second Test against South Africa. But in a spell of three wickets for one run in seven balls he not only dismantled a disappointingly fragile New Zealand middle-order but proved that he was back to his best after elbow surgery had forced him out of the Tests in New Zealand.

As so often before, Swann struck in his first over. Gaining a surprising amount of turn, Swann beat Dean Brownlie's somewhat loose stroke with one that turned through the gate to hit the top of off stump. Next over, having set-up Martin Guptill with some flat deliveries, Swann tossed one up, drew the batsman forward and again turned one through the gate to hit the top of off stump.

Two deliveries later, Kane Williamson was out too. Moving across his stumps to negate Swann much in the way demonstrated by Hashim Amla in 2012, Williamson was beaten by turn and struck on the pad. While Marais Erasmus turned down the appeal, England reviewed and were rewarded.

It was the first of two decisions overturned from England reviews in the session. While Tim Southee was originally given not out following a leg before appeal from Broad - the umpire quite reasonably unable to say whether ball had hit bat or pad first - reviews showed it had struck the pad first and was going on to hit leg stump.

Moments later Swann had Doug Bracewell taken at silly point, prodding forward to one that turned and took bat and pad, before Broad had Brendon McCullum, clearly struggling with a bad back after being forced back into service as wicketkeeper, caught behind as he poked at one that seamed in a little.

It left Swann with the best figures - 4 for 42 - by an England spinner in a Test in Leeds since John Emburey took 5 for 82 against Australia in 1985 and had New Zealand pondering over the wisdom of going into the game without a specialist spinner and with two left-arm seamers whose foot marks had provided rough for Swann to exploit.

But if Swann takes the plaudits, it was Finn who made the initial breakthrough. After New Zealand's openers had batted with fluency in reaching 55 without loss, Finn claimed the first three wickets in a sustained spell of hostile fast bowling.

After prompting an error from Peter Fulton, caught and bowled off the leading edge as he tried to work a ball that bounced more than he expected into the leg side, Finn persuaded Hamish Rutherford to push at one angled across him which resulted in a sliced edge to gully and then forced Ross Taylor to play-on. It was due reward for a wonderfully sustained spell of bowling where Finn had cramped Taylor for room, struck him twice on the body and finally provoked the false stroke.

New Zealand's last pair of Neil Wagner and Trent Boult thrashed 52 runs in 27 balls - Wagner thrashed four fours in an over off Broad before Boult thumped Swann for a four and two successive sixes in the next over - but when Anderson returned to end the innings, New Zealand had conceded a first innings lead of 180.

Perhaps surprisingly given the far from promising weather forecast, England decided not to enforce the follow-on - with day one washed out the follow-on target was 150-behind - and opted instead for another bat.

Alastair Cook, cutting and driving with freedom, was at his most fluent against an attack lacking Trent Boult, who was absent with a side strain. The England captain raced to his half-century off 63 balls and dominated an opening stand of 72 in 20 overs.

But the only obvious downside in the entire day for England was the failure of Nick Compton. He was clearly mindful of the vultures circling around him and laboured for 45 deliveries for his seven runs before falling to a bat-pad catch at short-leg. It is only three Tests since he registered back-to-back Test centuries, but it seems some have short memories.

Jonathan Trott found life little easier. Struggling to deal with the rough outside his off stump and some tight seam bowling, he managed only 11 off 69 deliveries, and, though he had helped Cook stretch the lead to 296 by stumps, England hardly forced home their advantage in the final 90 minutes. Still, it is England's policy - rightly or wrongly - to not allow the possibility of weather disruption to influence their game plan and, with nearly 200 overs left in the game, they remain in an overwhelmingly dominant position.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on May 27, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    @whofriggincares (May 27, 2013, 11:48 GMT) You talk about "getting excited about beating the Kiwis". Actually nobody here is. Your comment is pretty hilarious coming from an Aussie. Last time I looked Australia drew with New Zealand in the Test series in Australia. If anyone were to get excited about beating the Kiwis - I would have thought it would be Australia - seeings as how they failed to do so last time over there in Australia....

  • John on May 27, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @poms_have_short_memories on (May 27, 2013, 10:06 GMT) Have to love the user name. A bit of irony there after what happened in India recently @ozziespirit on (May 27, 2013, 10:38 GMT) Personally I don't think we (England) will necessarily thrash (or even beat) the Oz side. Australia might be weaker on paper but have a decent pace attack and I believe Rodgers (who has played many successful CC campaigns over here) will add some much needed stability to the batting line up

  • John on May 27, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @5wombats on (May 27, 2013, 9:03 GMT) Yeah , there was a real feel good factor in Ashes 2005 , like there was with the Froch/Kessler fight on Saturday. We were playing our best cricket when we were playing attacking cricket. In the Ashes 2005 we had that 5/1/5 formation and our batsmen playing positively. It was beautiful to watch. Good hard cricket from both sides on the pitch and full respect from the Aussies afterwards. India 2011 was similar apart from the 5/1/5 and the respect we got for playing so well. Since then we seem to have been scared to lose alot of the time above confident of winning.

  • Paul on May 27, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Owned? Why is that, because a couple of english supporters disagree with me? It's called an opinion. The fact of the matter is that in 2005 and 2009 a little bit of luck Australia's way(and less dodgy umpiring, thanks very much Rudy)and Australia would have won both series. That's obvious if you watched both series, whether or not they played better cricket is irrelevant. Maybe people should read a post thoroughly before they comment.

  • Nicholas on May 27, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    Once again, everyone is missing the point: England need to follow the weather forecast! There is a huge band of rain moving its way towards Leeds, and will most likely rule out most/all of Tuesday's play. England are bowling well; England are batting well; England are fiedling well; but they lack a 'killer-instinct' (win at all costs). Yes great cricket is fantastic for the game's future, but it's disappointing to see a strong team play for a draw which otherwise should have been an almost certain win. Very poor, selfish decision from Cook to bat again. England's bowlers were not tired! P.S. RandyOZ: Swann is writing a new chapter in his book: "how left-handed opposition bowlers help me take wickets!"

  • damien on May 27, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    It really is hilarious reading @FFL getting excited about England beating the Kiwis. the fact of the matter is that good sides (which England undoubtedly is) should be dominating the kiwis, but in this back to back series it is only happening now right at the end. The way they have mixed their form over the past couple of years must be of huge concern to the England coaching staff. Good performances are too few and far between from Broad , Finn and Bell. Even the one player that has been so important against the Aussies Trott, has started to be a bit up and down. You can say what you like about the kiwi line up being the toughest you will face this year but anyone with any idea about the game knows that if you dont up the ante the Aussies will make you pay even in England. Oh and @FFL stop embarrasing yourself by posting as @ozziespirit. Perhaps all those years of beltings has left you subconsciously wishing you were an Aussie.Mmm food for thought?

  • mk on May 27, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    Tomorrow will be rained up so if it's gonna be 2-0 they'll have to do it today. England look like they are playing for the draw though:-)

  • Sean on May 27, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    you just got owned @pomshaveshortmemories hahaaa

  • Martin on May 27, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    @poms_have_short_memories - I can see that we are ggoing to have some fun with you this summer.

  • Paul on May 27, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    You keep telling yourself that @jackthelad, if you watched both series you would know what i mean.