Swann glad to be back

2013-05-27 08:04
Graeme Swann (AFP)

Leeds - Graeme Swann was delighted to be playing a leading role again as England strengthened their grip on the second Test against New Zealand at Headingley.

England's premier off-spinner missed the three-Test series in New Zealand earlier this year after undergoing an operation on an elbow injury.

He was hardly needed during England's 170-run first win in the first of this two-match series at Lord's last week, with the seamers led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad doing the bulk of the damage.

But the 34-year-old Swann, whose only previous Test at Headingley saw him go wicketless against Australia in 2009, was in the thick of the action Sunday.

He took four for 42 in nine overs and ripped the heart out of New Zealand's middle-order with a spell of three for four ,in two overs after fast bowler Steven Finn had made the initial breakthrough.

Swann's haul helped dismiss New Zealand for just 174 in reply to England's first innings 354.

England captain Alastair Cook opted against enforcing the follow-on and at stumps on the third day he was 88 not out in a total of 116 for one - a lead of 296 runs.

"It's only third time I've bowled since the operation. Obviously with having the operation, and with such a big summer ahead, it's important to get wickets under your belt," Swann, set to be a key bowler for England in their Ashes defence against Australia, said.

"I was optimistic I'd be able to get back playing and be able to perform but whether you'll have the rhythm and the spin in the fingers you're never sure," added Swann, who bowled both Dean Brownlie and Martin Guptill between bat and pad with classic off-breaks.

One rare downside for England on Sunday was the sight of struggling opener Nick Compton making just seven in 84 minutes before he was caught at short leg off spinner Kane Williamson.

This was his last Test innings before the Ashes but Compton was backed to come good again by Swann.

"It's a shame when someone misses out and Compo's obviously had a fairly low scoring game," Swann said.

"I bowl at him in the nets so I know how good he is and he'll be scoring heavily in no time."

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor said the Black Caps had been expecting to follow-on -- and that it might not have been so bad if they had.

"We were probably a bit surprised we didn't bat again," the top-order batsman said.

"Sometimes when you bat like that it would be good to get back out there; sometimes it's easier to get straight back on the horse.

"Now we need to show some fight, keep England out there as long as possible and hopefully make our job easier tomorrow (Monday) and on day five."

But New Zealand's task was made harder when, after play, a team spokeswoman said Trent Boult, was "unlikely" to bowl on Monday.

Boult who took five first innings wickets, bowled just two overs when England batted again Sunday after aggravating a side strain.

Read more on:    england  |  graeme swann  |  cricket

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