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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