Swann lauds Cook and Pietersen
Graeme Swann paid tribute to Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen after their outstanding unbroken partnership left England in an excellent position heading into day three of the second Test against India in Mumbai.
Swann, with 4-70, had good cause for personal celebration, after becoming the first England off-spinner to take 200 Test wickets as the tourists bowled India out for 327.
He even dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, who compiled a masterful 135, for the first time in the series, after almost 18 hours of vain previous effort from England.
But it was the stand of 110 between Cook and Pietersen, 87 and 62 not out respectively, in a stumps total of 178 for two which most cheered England.
While captain Cook once again demonstrated all the virtues so evident in his rearguard 176 in Ahmedabad last week, Pietersen was back to his swaggering best.
“Kevin today showed what a class player he is. We all know how good a player he is,” Swann told BBC Test Match Special. “It is great to see him being so positive and playing some old-fashioned KP shots.
“I’m sure he’ll be keen to dig in tomorrow, as will Cookie, and make this partnership massive. It’s very important ... you don’t get to 30 for three, 30 for four, sending shockwaves through the changing room.
“If you get off to a good start, and have guys at the crease who are comfortable, it does have a calming influence. Apart from me having my pads on as nightwatchman, it was a very calm changing room.”
Cook is showing once again that captaincy suits him, in the infancy of his tenure in permanent charge of the Test team.
“I said before the series that if Cookie’s batting could blossom as a captain, as it did in the one-day arena, we’d be a very lucky team,” added Swann. “He’s batted magnificently in the three innings he’s played so far.”
As for his own achievement - fellow off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today became his milestone Test victim - Swann still feels as if he is living the dream.
While Duncan Fletcher was England coach, there seemed little prospect of Swann winning favour, but that all changed in time for him to make his debut at the age of 29 in 2008.
“Five years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking 200 Test wickets,” he said.
“I’m absolutely over the moon the way my career has panned out for me.
“The change at the top (came) just at the right time for me, and it’s been a great four years. I’ve enjoyed every minute.”
He is also delighted to be bowling again with his former Northamptonshire team-mate Monty Panesar, who finished with five wickets today.
“Monty bowled magnificently,” added Swann. “It’s great to see, because I’m a big advocate of playing two spinners - I love playing with Monty. I just love it when he takes a wicket.
“That face like a man possessed, when he got Sachin Tendulkar out yesterday, I’ve never seen a man so wound up in my life as Mont there - it was brilliant.”
India, meanwhile, must reassess after their first really tough day of the series.
“The target was to get 350,” said Pujara. “We tried our best, but I still think we had a decent total on the board. We needed more wickets, but a couple of decisions went against us.”
The tireless number three finally made a mistake, and was stumped off an arm ball - giving Swann another reason to smile.
“It’s very nice to finally dismiss him,” he said. “It doesn’t normally take three innings of a Test series to get a man out. But we’ve done it now, so we hope that’s taken the finger out of the dam.”