Swann in exalted company - Cook
Alastair Cook applauded the continuing brilliance of Graeme Swann after he eased England’s nerves by spinning them to a 181-run victory on the final day of the first Test against Bangladesh.
After his side laboured for a second consecutive session without success, Swann took three wickets in the afternoon in Chittagong to become the first England off-spinner to capture 10 in a match since the great Jim Laker in 1956.
It was a performance good enough to break the considerable resistance of Junaid Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim and claim the man-of-the-match honours ahead of Cook, who scored 212 runs in two innings.
But Cook, leading his side for the first time in a Test, was happy to defer to his in-form team-mate, whose haul was the result of 78 overs on one of Test cricket’s slowest, flattest tracks.
“It’s a really good win because to get 20 wickets on a pitch like that was a fantastic effort,” said Cook, after the Tigers’ were bowled out for 331.
“Swanny has got 10 himself and to get 10 wickets on that pitch was an amazing effort. He has just got so much control of his game right now, he’s very easy to captain.
“He knows the fields he wants and you trust him to wheel away, knowing he’s going to make the breakthrough. He bowled a lot of overs here so that shows his determination.”
Laker is esteemed company indeed for Swann to keep in the record books, but Cook did not shy away from the comparison.
“Everything is going right for him, and the skill he’s shown over the past 12 months shows it’s not a fluke,” he said.
“If he keeps his feet on the ground, there’s no reason why he can’t (be an England great) and I’m sure he’ll continue doing it.”
Thirty-year-old Swann was pleased with his day five return after a gruelling, often joyless stint yesterday.
“It was horrible taking no wickets; we were really struggling and this morning was tough as well,” he said. “But it’s been a good 12 months for me and I’m more than happy for it to keep on going.”
After England’s dominance at the start of the match when they declared on 599 on the back of comfortable centuries for Cook and Paul Collingwood, the inevitable questions had been raised over the viability of Bangladesh as a Test-playing nation.
But their guts and determination over the last two days suggest that they are a rapidly improving unit and Cook insisted it was far from a facile beginning to his captaincy.
“Test cricket is supposed to be hard and it was hard graft for us at the end to get those 10 wickets,” he said. “Full credit to their two batsman and the way they fought. Junaid and Mushy batted very well.
“Last night was probably the worst time for me. Towards the end of that session when we’d been in the field all day and couldn’t get them out.
“But I’m quite pleased with how calm I kept. We knew they couldn’t keep doing what they were doing; we just had to keep believing it would happen and thankfully it did.”
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