India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day

Swann savours Panesar pairing

David Hopps

November 24, 2012

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Swann trapped Harbhajan Singh lbw for his 200th Test wicket, India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day, November 24, 2012
Graeme Swann appeals for what became his 200th Test wicket © BCCI

Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar have yet to experience a Test victory when they have bowled in tandem for England, but after sharing nine India first-innings wickets at the Wankhede they remain hopeful that they can finally put that right at the eighth attempt.

Swann took three of the last four India wickets to fall on the second day in Mumbai, including his 200th Test wicket, providing much-needed support for Panesar at a time when India seemed to be taking the game away from England. Instead, the game is a tight one with England, 178 for 2 at the close of the second day, trailing by 149.

"We love playing together but our record as a team hasn't been that successful when we have done so we are looking to change that," Swann said. "I'm a big advocate of playing two spinners. I love playing with Monty - I grew up with him at Northamptonshire.

"I love it when he takes a wicket. That face like a man possessed when he got Sachin Tendulkar out yesterday - I have never seen a man so wound up in my life."

Swann, who began the series with a 51-over marathon in India's first innings in Ahmedabad, cannot survive that sort of workload, especially bearing in mind his susceptible elbow, but England need a change in fortune when he teams up with Panesar.

In fairness to both, it has been England's vulnerability when batting against spin, rather than their own bowling limitations, which makes their own record appear such a poor one.

Swann prefers the Wankhede track to the one he toiled on at Motera. "Even though there is turn and bounce it is a very nice wicket to bat on," he said. "It is going to start spinning more but good Test pitches should do that.

"This pitch is better to bowl spin on than last week. There is a lot more bounce in the pitch. We are used to more bounce so maybe it evens the teams out a bit. But we are not at a stage of the game where we can say we will win this now. The main thing is we are in a good position in the game."

Swann had a particular reason to be grateful for another partnership - but this time it was two batsmen working in tandem. When Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen reached the close unscathed, with their third wicket stand worth 110 runs, it spared Swann an unexpected nightwatchman's role.

England had kept faith in the job of nightwatchman, they had just replaced the man employed to do it, Jimmy Anderson. With Tim Bresnan, another candidate dropped, Swann, as their most capable lower-order batsman against spin, found the role thrust upon him.

"Apart from me having my pads on as nightwatchman it was a very calm changing room," Swann said. "I don't know why it was me. I think I lost the toss."

Swann become the first English offspinner to complete 200 Test wickets when he dismissed Harbhajan Singh. Only Derek Underwood lies ahead of him. "Five years ago I wouldn't have dreamt of taking 200 wickets," he said. "The change at the top was just at the right time for me."

The change was Duncan Fletcher's departure as England coach. Swann was never his type. As he relished his 200th wicket, Swann must have been delighted that Fletcher been forced to watch him reach it.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by vaidyar on (November 25, 2012, 2:25 GMT)

Why's Swann picking on Fletcher now? Didn't he go on record saying he(Swann) wouldn't have picked himself those years ago? He's a good bowler. Love watching him bowl. One of those increasingly rare off-spinners who can still bowl without wearing full-sleeves AND take wickets.

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

Chesty-la-roux: Broad's taken the most wickets among seamers this year and he has had a great run of form from the India series last year, not to mention being the V.C. of the dressing room; for such a closely knit dressing room, leaving out such an integral part of your team after a down series isn't the best thing to do..

Broad's pace is down, and nobody is denying that, but he's the second most experienced and capable player they have in the role of seamer after Anderson. Not to mention that his batting (though he's been in poor form for the last few tests) is helpful as well...

Posted by JG2704 on (November 24, 2012, 21:19 GMT)

@Chesty-la-roux on (November 24 2012, 20:33 PM GMT) Swann's just taken 9 wickets in 2 innings which I believe is better than all the pace bowlers combined so far in this series so I guess the answer re Swann is yes - at least if you're comparing to the other bowlers

Posted by Chesty-la-roux on (November 24, 2012, 20:33 GMT)

Is there any particular, merit based, reason why Swan and Broad are in the England team?

Posted by Tigg on (November 24, 2012, 20:26 GMT)

Makes sense having Swann as nightwatchman in India. Behind Cook, Prior and maybe Bell (who granted has struggled in the subcontinent, but everywhere else has battered spinners) he's probably the best player of spin in the side.

Posted by kaidranzer on (November 24, 2012, 19:23 GMT)

I don't understand why Cricinfo is biased towards Graeme Swann. There was hardly any derogatory content in my previous comment. I have said before and will maintain that Swann is an average bowler and is far far away from being a "legend of the game". 200 wickets doesn't make you a legend.

Posted by subbass on (November 24, 2012, 18:24 GMT)

I actually think our spinners are better than Indias on this pitch due to the bounce and of course the fact they are very experienced and both world class. Even without a lead we could still win. The key is getting Pujara out the guy is a real star in the making so hats off to him, but hey, he is due a failure ! As for Cooky ? Well what can you say, he is the best opener in the world and if KP bats like this there are few better middle order players. I just hope our inexperienced lower order batters don't mess up. Either way a cracking game and England deserve to win this game as they have won almost every session so far. But hey you know what they say about Test matches day 3 is usually the pivotal day. This is so true for this game in particular !

Posted by mikey76 on (November 24, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

He's been a wonderful player for England and instrumental in our rise to the top recently. Lets hope he continues and gets to 400 wickets in the coming years. That means rest too, his elbow won't take bowling 60-70 overs every test. I don't see why he can't sit out a test or two against NZ and let Monty take the reigns. Squad rotation is important, we need to look after our best players.

Posted by basusri133b on (November 24, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

England have shown tremendous character by fighting back in this Test. Alister Cook is definitely one of the finest opening batsmen in Test Cricket. England need to tighten up their fielding. The close in fielding is sloppy. They need to support Swann& Pannessar. This could be the difference between Victory & Defeat.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (November 24, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

If England fails to take a big lead in first innings then it is surely india's match. England will struggle to score 150 in the fourth innings.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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