India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 1st day

Swann's worst fears confirmed

The failure of their seamers to provide any control, and the lack of a second spinner, saw England leaning heavily on their premier slow bowler on day one

George Dobell in Ahmedabad

November 15, 2012

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Swann claimed three wickets, India A v England XI, tour match, Mumbai, 1st day, October 30, 2012
Graeme Swann passed Jim Laker's haul of wickets for England on day one (ESPNcricinfo are not carrying live photos of the India v England series due to reporting restrictions imposed by the host board) © Getty Images

In the run up to the Test series in India, Graeme Swann gave an interview in which he said England would be "screwed" if they had to rely on just him and Monty Panesar. But a day into the series, Swann's worst fears have been realised. Perhaps something beyond his worst fears: not only did England lean on him like a pensioner on a Zimmer frame, but he did not even have the support of Panesar's spin.

Swann claimed 4 for 85 on the first day in Ahmedabad. It was not just the fact that he took all four wickets that underlined England reliance upon him, but the fact that he was the only frontline bowler to offer his captain sustained control. Swann delivered 32 overs - more than a third of the overs bowled - and was the only one of the specialist bowlers to concede under three-an-over. Indeed, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan both went for more than four-an-over.

While England's seamers were never likely to coax much out of a low, slow wicket that offered them little, Swann accepted they had conceded too many runs in the first session and India had earned themselves a strong position in the game. He took some consolation in the thought that England had clawed their way back into things a little as the day wore on. From 120 without loss at lunch and then 225 for 1 not long before tea, England fought back to claim 3 for 59 in 27 overs.

"From the first few overs we realised we were in for the long haul over here," Swann said afterwards. "We realised the ball was not going to swing much but we didn't expect the pitch to be that low and slow. At lunch we sat down and came up with a new game plan. I don't think we bowled straight enough in the first session. On a pitch that is low and slow you have to attack the stumps a bit more. I think we did that as the game went on and that's why we got a couple of wickets and pulled the run-rate back.

"The first session they undoubtedly won. Arguably the other two were even. Having lost the toss and bowled first on that pitch we would have liked five or six wickets but we'll take four. If we had five or six it would have been an exceptional day for us and would have knocked 60 runs off the total.

"India have some very destructive players and the way Viru [Virender Sehwag] batted really took the game away from us in the first couple of hours. I've been reading in the paper that he hasn't got a century for a couple of years and he's been questioned by the local press. Good on him for banishing those doubters."

"Bowled through the gate is always my favourite way to get a batsman out, especially a player as good as Kohli." Graeme Swann on his final wicket of the day

The wicket of Sehwag, who was bowled as he attempted to sweep, made Swann the highest wicket-taker of any offspinner to play for England, surpassing Jim Laker's record of 193. He laughed off the suggestion that he was on course to emulate - or even beat - Laker's record of 19 wickets in a Test in 1956 and instead chose to focus on two of the more pleasing wickets: Sachin Tendulkar, beaten in the flight and caught at deep mid-wicket, and Virat Kohli, beaten through the gate by an offbreak, certainly delighted him.

"I always say I'm not a stats man but when people told me I was near Jim Laker I was genuinely excited," Swann said. When you're growing up these are the famous names of the game, you don't even dream of emulating them, let alone going past them.

"I was fortunate with Kohli's wicket that the ball was changed after the quarter seam exploded on the soft ball. The replacement was a touch harder. No ball spun for three or four overs and then one just hit a pebble and turned square. It's always my favourite way to get a batsman out, bowled through the gate. Especially when it is a player as good as Kohli.

"The noise that erupted in the ground when Sachin walked out to bat… before he even comes out to the middle you know who it is. It's always nice to get him out, and get him out early. Let's face it, he's the greatest player still playing the game."

But Swann knew his success might be something of a mixed blessing. Bearing in mind that India have two frontline spinners in their side and they will after last use of a pitch that seems certain to turn more as the match progresses, then Swann's early success suggests England's batsmen could face a tough struggle.

"The Indian spinners were probably watching with eagle eyes and looking forward to bowling on that pitch," Swann said. "It's still a very good pitch for batting on. It's only the odd ball that turned. That can pose problems sometimes. I think our batsmen will look at the footage and realise that it's still a good pitch."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by IndianSRTfan on (November 17, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

@Erebus: Pitch is not dead mate. English batsmen look like they are dancing in front of quality spin bowling. Pitch and conditions are secondary Skills are important which english players are lacking

Posted by Erebus26 on (November 16, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

A couple of people are having a go at me for my comments about the pitch but I'm not whining, and I would've said the same if England had won the toss and batted. The pitch didn't really offer anything for the bowlers on the first day, yes the English seamers didn't bowl very well (and we didn't hold our catches!!!) but do you honestly feel a side packed with quality batsman would've come close to being bowled out on the first day? I rate guys like Pujara and I believe the rest are supremely talented but if anybody seriously tries to tell me that it was a challenging pitch for batting on, then they are frankly lying through their teeth. Look I love variety but I would've preferred a real bunsen burner over this one. As for Sehwag, he's gone downhill in my opinion. It was a nice surface for him to bat on when he doesn't have to expend much effort (or footwork) when playing shots. On more testing surfaces than this Sehwag struggled against the NZ attack.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

I'm an England fan, and I myself have never said England are the world's best, ever. This ranking system is ridiculous and clearly does not work correctly. It puts unwanted pressure on the players, and clearly England could not handle it. But seriously, playing one spinner on these dead Indian tracks is committing cricket suicide. There needs to be serious questions asking of the selectors. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Eng lose 4-0. Maybe Eng cricket grounds need to produce dry turning, deteriorating tracks to keep up with the rest of the cricket world. Mistakes need to be learned, rather than committing them over and over and over and god damn over. Einstein said that Insanity is making the same mistakes over and over and expecting a different result.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 10:02 GMT)

any chance of england playing english players??? i think the first test of the ashes should be at cape town

Posted by IndianSRTfan on (November 16, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

Think its high time the english supporters and former players stopped whining about turning tracks. Both turning tracks and green tops are part of this game and you need to have skills to succeed on these wickets. And if England beat India in England they are labelled world's best, and when they get beaten everywhere in subcontinet, its coz of conditions???!!!. Both teams need to win in foreign conditions to be called great.

Posted by MostCulturedAussieLesPatterson on (November 16, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

@leaseyy7 - Have you forgotten England's most recent test series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan? Why do Poms whinge long before a series starts, build the whining into a crescendo during the series and continue long after it is over? Reminds me of the joke about the 'plane load of Poms and the continuing whining long after the pilot has cut the engines!

Posted by sportofpain on (November 16, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

@leaseyy7: Warne's average in India is in the 40's. A certain Dennis Lillee got 2 wickets in Asia. Still great players? And Punter should be scoring tons and tons of runs in India correct - doesn't he average just 25 in India? The statements you make are just to support a flawed line of reasoning. If one extended that logic then Indian bowlers should be the best in the world because they bowl half the time in India. Kapil Dev has 200 wickets in India - no other fast bowler comes even close... thoughts?

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (November 16, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

@leaseyy7 . The same thing applicable to your bowlers too, right? If you are an English fast bowler, you can automatically wipe about 10 off your average. isn't it? Flat tracks cannot be made for one side, if your batsmen have guts, they too will score like this.

Posted by chamma87 on (November 16, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

Mr.Eliya Abbas Syed dont ever compare a ordinary batsman with a legend. shewag is nowhere near to the class of lara.lara has proved his class all around the world.if you say he didnt perform in India, you need to check how many matches he played in India.with the ordinary bowling attack India have its lucky lara is already retired.

Posted by We_Win_All on (November 16, 2012, 1:56 GMT)

@Erebus26: Never judge a pitch by the way Viru bats. Wait till English bat on this surface and then u will understand how really challenging this track is? Viru makes batting look so simple, but it isn't as toil of Kohli, Pujara and Yuvi showed

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 0:28 GMT)

@leasy - what about the fast-track bullies like Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and half of the England cricket team who have had low batting averages in India?!! Why is it that England has never managed to win more than one test match in Infia over the past twenty years despite playing on 'flat' pitches?!

Posted by Agila on (November 16, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

I think Virat Kohli, slowed down the scoring rate by playing slower than usual. He would have continued the tempo, like pujara did , when he replaced Gambhir, which should have gotten few more runs into his account and a much better Indian total for the first day. Kohli not only slowed down the proceedings , but he also influeced Pujara to slow down. Guess its too much to expect from these relatively new fellows to score at the rate which Sehwag does. Not that the English bowlers exactly clawed back!

Posted by AvidCricFan on (November 16, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

@leaseyy7 - Take 10 off from batsmen who can only play on bouncy and pacy wickets. Fully agree that slow wicket greats fail on pacy wickets, the same is true from batsmen who can only score on pacy/bouncy/seaming wickets.

Posted by Meety on (November 15, 2012, 23:34 GMT)

Hopefully Swann's performance here, will mean that some of the worst posters from other countries will back off. Great effort Swanny.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 23:24 GMT)

We all need to stop whingeing about pitches and players need to accept that they play in all conditions. The fact that the pitch changes from match to match and country to country is one of the best things about cricket. It makes every game a different challenge and we should enjoy the fact that England are being tested on a spinners paradise and that India were worked over on a seamer's deck.

I must say though that it defies belief that England have selected one specialist spinner on what was obviously going to be a rank turner!

Posted by maddy20 on (November 15, 2012, 23:20 GMT)

@Erebus26 And other English fans whining about the pitch being flat Reserve your judgement till England bats. There was plenty of turn on offer. Sehwag is a kind of player who makes a mockery of the opposition on his day. While he scored 117 at run a ball, the rest scored 200 in 70 overs! England bowled poorly, often giving too much width or bowling on the pads. On these sorts of wicket, you need to attack the stumps to pick wickets. Tomorrow Zaheer and Yadav will show you how its done. Add to that the woeful fielding, 4 dropped catches and one stumping missed. Anderson misjudged a simple catch when Pujara was on 8 . Now Pujara is a Dravid like player and he rarely makes mistakes. If you dont take the chances offered he will make you pay, HEAVILY. I expect India to score 500+ tomorrow and then run through the English batsmen like hot knife through butter! Innings defeat is very much on the cards.

Posted by cloudmess on (November 15, 2012, 22:48 GMT)

Why no Monty? We are screwed.

Posted by samincolumbia on (November 15, 2012, 22:35 GMT)

@leaseyy7 - It works both ways!! You can automatically add 10 off your team's bowling average who needs assistance from the pitch to get wickets rather than relying on skills or talent.

Posted by leaseyy7 on (November 15, 2012, 22:16 GMT)

Dalok, need I remind you of India's previous tour to Australia, where most batsmen were bowled on one occasion? And it's a shame Sehwag scored runs. Just goes to show that he can't play on a pitch that has the slightest hint of good bounce, and needs a flat track to get some form into him. As was said before, if you're an Indian batsman, you can automatically wipe about 10 off your average.

Posted by Erebus26 on (November 15, 2012, 22:15 GMT)

@Jyotishman Sharma - Yeah Indian sub-continental cricket does add a great variety, but it is unfortunately lacking in this pitch. It's as flat as a pancake and offered nothing for any of the bowlers. Sehwag expended little effort in getting to a century. It's surfaces like this and the one in Mirpur that are killing test cricket as a spectacle.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 21:39 GMT)

I hope that England is traveling with an exceptional surgeon, because somebody is going to have to re-attach Swann's arm when it falls off! If the wickets in the later tests are anything like this I hope that England seriously considers playing Monty, if only to give Swann a rest, or at least let KP and Patel know that they will be bowling a fair bit!

Posted by BG4cricket on (November 15, 2012, 21:07 GMT)

Bresnan was awful today - how does he keep getting picked ? England would have been better playing Monty as well for this Test but I think Finn would have bowled well here. Anderson gave too much width and Broad tired as the day went on after a good couple of spells in the first session. It will be very tough for England from here as the scoring rate will provide plenty of time for a result and Ashwin and Ojha will be challenging in their home conditions - Trott and KP will need big ones.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (November 15, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

Biggest surprise was that there was no yelling at each other, no trash talking, and not even a stare at drop catches. I guess something positive came out of the KP affair. Eng just went along their business and dug in deep when it mattered. I'm encouraged about Jimmy and Broad's performances despite the lack of wickets. Good pace on a dead pitch, they stuck to their game plan and changed accordingly. They didn't bowl bad to be honest. As an Eng fan, I'm not worried about the bowling unit, the batting...that's a different story.

Posted by FRRR on (November 15, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

I said it before Swann is no Ajmal ....

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 19:43 GMT)

Today was the first time I saw with attention Swann's bowling and he did impress me....He has that quality about him just like Saeed Ajmal or S. Mushtaq were he will be able to take wickets on unexpected junctures......Even though Kohli and Gambhir are no match for Dravid and Laxman but I can safely say that they would have got troubled as well...I don't think Monty would have got much wickets because its not the pitch, its about the man.. I sincerely hope that he achieves infinitely more than what Ashley Giles did and have a career as long as Kumble or Shane Warne had.

Posted by PPD123 on (November 15, 2012, 17:45 GMT)

Go on Swanny - Say all that you like... 300+ on that pitch was 60-70 runs more that you would have wanted... and India still have batting left... Tough 3-4 days ahead for Eng...

Posted by itclanster on (November 15, 2012, 17:16 GMT)

I think indian spinners are going to struggle because none of them have the exceptional pace variations and flight variations as much as swann has. And also england's top six is in some delightful form especially KP and patel. For me Swanny has won the day for england.

Posted by JustIPL on (November 15, 2012, 17:13 GMT)

Off course winning the toss has saved India in this match otherwise batting first English could have scored heavily and then Swann was enough.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

Anderson and Broad did not bowl too bad!!! Its a really dead can a test match be played on dusty sand wicket!!!

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

Sadly for GP Swann though, his own countrymen seem to be least bothered about his feat. But then, he looked the only international class player amidst a bunch of trundlers. I hope the Englishmen, and the cricket board there someday acknowledge that there is more to cricket than green-tops and swing bowlers. Hopefully, someday, they will agree that sub-continent cricket is a great variety to this game...

Posted by drei on (November 15, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

In terms of intelligence this guy is quite a distance above his bowling mates. A little surprised he didn't complain about the dropped catches either which would've got him those five/six wickets he was talking about. Great job in the middle of utter panic!

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 16:14 GMT)

Swann biggest Fear is yet over , if swann managed to clean bowl 3 indian batsman, and take four of the 5 wickets on the first day!! i feel bad for england batsman, when imagining what the duel of ohja and ashwin will do!

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 15, 2012, 16:10 GMT)

Broad and Bresnan are not even club level bowlers. How they make the team only just goes to show the lack of depth in England.

Posted by CricketMaan on (November 15, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

Day 2 - India 434 all out (Pujara 99, Yuvraj 77, Swann 6-117, Patel 2-61), England in reply close day at 151/1 with Cook and Trott at crease (Ohja 1-41). Big News - Zak pulled hamstring and is out of the series

Posted by dalok on (November 15, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

Swann has earned more of my respect. I knew he is good but to take the wickets of top four India batman on day one with only one of them scoring over 40 is good. He bowled three of them and these Indian batsman don't get bowled so easy.

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