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May 9, 2009
Fresh from England's ten-wicket win over West Indies yesterday, the England captain Andrew Strauss has lauded the efforts of Graeme Swann.
Swann cracked an entertaining 63 in England's first innings and picked up six wickets to earn him the Man-of-the-Match award, and five of his six victims were left-handers, including Shivnarine Chanderpaul whose wicket Swann took twice in the match.
"Swann is an excellent bowler at left-handers in particular," Strauss said. "I haven't seen a left-hander play him with real confidence yet. He troubles everyone, has a good variety - and I think he's a smart bowler.
"Possibly the fact he's come in a little bit late in his career means he's had a little bit more time to think about his variations, how to out-think people and get them out.
"We're excited about what he can offer us."
Swann's contribution helped England record their first win at Lord's since 2005 - their first victory in a live Test since beating New Zealand, at Trent Bridge, last June. Swann aside, Graham Onions took 5 for 38 on his Test debut while Ravi Bopara all but cemented his position at No.3 when he stroked a sublime 143.
"We played some pretty clinical cricket," Strauss said. "We were in some trouble on day one - and the way, in particular, that Ravi stood up and showed his temperament under pressure is really encouraging. It was crucial to the outcome of the Test match. "It was not easy to bat on day one - the wicket was a bit green and nipped around a bit - and someone needed to front up and play the conditions well.
"He did that, and it's really encouraging when you see that from a guy who hasn't played a lot before - because it's an examination of his temperament and character.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find too many negatives out of this game. I'm very happy with the performance. And what a great start for Graham Onions - he'll be delighted with his week, and I'm delighted for him.
"It shows there's some good talent in English cricket. It was fantastic to see those guys do well."
There is precious little time for West Indies to regroup ahead of next Thursday's second Test at Chester-le-Street. They looked all at sea against the moving ball at Lord's, and the team's cohesiveness was tested by the late arrival of their captain, Chris Gayle, following his stint in the Indian Premier League.
"It's always a bit of a shock for the West Indies to come here, and the weather is always colder," Strauss said. "But we won the important periods and then kept the pressure on. "Winning matches lifts the team and makes them feel part of something very special. "The more you do it the more you believe you can win when the chips are down."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Why the Indian opener would be well advised to shelve the hook and pull in Australia