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A Game Apart

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A Game Apart


London Evening Standard



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Oakwood Estates

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Never pat a burning dog. Or cut a spinner. The wisdom of Swann

GRAEME SWANN came within one ball of a sensational hat-trick in East London as England warmed-up with some gusto for next week’s Test series.
Nottinghamshire spinner Swann (right) ended with 6-55 off 16 devastating overs as England dominated the drawn two-day warm-up against a South African invitation side at a rain-affected Buffalo Park.
But when he bowled the hat-trick ball at teenager Mangaliso Mosehle with six close fielders in attendance, it spun inches over the bails. Swann bowled Mosehle with his next ball to take three wickets in four deliveries and he grinned: “I’m desperate for a hat-trick. I’ve never got one in any form of cricket, I was telling everyone. I was gutted when the hat-trick ball missed. It actually hurt. But I feel very good about my game today, it feels nice coming out of the hand.
"As a spinner, if you've been bowling and feel a semblance of rhythm then you are fairly happy with life. I think it's more important for the batters to get time in the middle and for everyone to get into their own state of mind that they are ready to go. It's no big deal for me."
Mosehle, a promising 19-year-old wicketkeeper with just one first class 50 to his name, made the mistake of trying to cut Swann through point when he fell. Swann, the ultimate entertainer, said: "There are two things you must never do: Cut a spinner and pat a burning dog."
Struggling with injury earlier on tour, Swann hadn't bowled since the third ODI in Cape Town on November 27. The last time he bowled in whites was during the heady Ashes triumph at The Oval in August. He is the only spinner in the England squad after off-form Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid was sent back to play for the Performance Squad against the Titans in Pretoria this week.
He proved his all-round capabilities too, thrashing and unbeaten 39 off 31 balls as England declared on 329-8, with the hosts teetering on 167-7 at the close. Swann gets another chance to bag a hat-full today when the sides meet again over two days in the final warm-up before Wednesday’s first Test in Centurion.
England were also boosted by an impressive 81 from opener Alistair Cook while both Ian Bell and Matt Prior were able to retire after picking up useful 40s.
The drawbacks? Stuart Broad, who nearly went home with a shoulder problem during the triumphant one-day series, bowled six overs and conceded 42 runs but Durham pair Graham Onions and Mark Davies kept a good line.

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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Anderson ready to inject pace... hopefully

THE good news for England came off the pitch at Buffalo Park in East London yesterday, where the rain came down with England 142-3 in their warm-up for the Test series.

While Essex’s Alastair Cook produced a solid 66 not out against a South African invitation side before for the first Test in soggy Centurion next Wednesday, James Anderson was the talk of a town with not much to talk about when he turned up without strapping on his injured knee.

Seamer Anderson, who took a best-ever 5-23 despite his injury in the decisive One-Day International against South Africa in Port Elizabeth nine days ago, faces further injections in the troublesome joint and could play in the second warm-up later this week.

Having caught up with the squad after staying in Durban for further examination of his knee, Anderson only batted in nets yesterday and coach Andy Flower said: “Jimmy had more injections on Saturday to try to settle things down. He’s reacted well. He’ll play later this week and hopefully he’ll be ready for the Test.

“We are concerned about it. He's one of our main bowlers, he's our strike bowler. He needs a little more time without any bowling and we are giving him that. Two days of middle of practice in the second game should be sufficient for Jimmy."

But it won’t be sufficient for struggling Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid. The major disappointment of a triumphant one-day series, Rashid has been sent 1,000 miles inland to join the Performance Squad in Pretoria. Flower said: “We have got Graeme Swann with us, so I think it was a good opportunity for Adil to play a four-day game up there on a good pitch and allow Swann four days of cricket here."

But it was Kent’s Joe Denly who impressed for the youngsters. He completed a double hundred on day two against Nashua Titans.

Resuming on 188, Denly added a further 29 to see him past his landmark in a game which does not carry first-class status, while Ajmal Shahzad hit a swift 33 in a stand of 71 for the eighth wicket.

The EPP racked up 425-9 declared, before Shazhad and Sajid Mahmood then shared seven wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 235. Rashid didn't feature among the wicket-takers.

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