Swann senses momentum shift
Graeme Swann went in front of the press after day two at Durban
Graeme Swann believes England captain Andrew Strauss has helped regain the mid-match initiative from South Africa after day two of the second Test at Kingsmead.
Strauss hit Makhaya Ntini out of the attack at the start of his side’s reply to 343 - which was worth 103 for one by stumps.
The opener was gone by then, leaving the consolidation to his first-wicket partner Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott.
But Swann sees Strauss’ run-a-ball 54 as a telling contribution - after South Africa’s last-wicket pair Dale Steyn and Ntini had frustrated England by plundering 58 together in quick time.
“We didn’t sit down and say ‘let’s go all guns blazing’ to get back on top,” said Swann.
“But it was important that we did that, because it’s wrestled straight back the initiative that South Africa had taken from us.”
Like Steyn before him, Strauss dominated his partnership.
“I came out of the shower, and he was already on 30 - and I don’t take that long in the shower,” Swann reported.
“It’s great to see him go out there and play shots from the word go. Since he retired from Twenty20, he’s become one of the best one-day players in the world.
“He’s very disappointed to have only made 50-odd and lost his wicket after tea to a very good ball.”
England were in danger of falling off the pace while Steyn was clubbing boundaries - off Swann, who took 4-110, in particular - after AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher had earlier put on 63 for the sixth wicket.
The England off-spinner admitted: “At nine down, we were in a very good position at around about 300 if we could have finished it off then.”
De Villiers later revealed his captain Graeme Smith has had enough of Trott’s time-consuming fidgeting at the crease - something the crowd have begun to notice too.
South Africa are hoping Trott will have to change his ways.
But Swann said: “It’s not something he’s been working on. He’s done it every year against me when I’ve played against him.
“It’s just Trotty; it’s how he bats, how he goes about things. He’s got a very organised and very clear gameplan.”
Swann knows from his own experience in county cricket that the Warwickshire batsman’s behaviour can be exasperating.
“I can probably understand South Africa’s frustrations, because I’ve stood at slip calling him every name under the sun for Notts over the years,” he said.
“It’s quite nice to see it happen to someone else. It’s part of cricket. Not everyone bats at the same tempo.
“Trotty’s very circumspect and sticks to his gameplan. I don’t think anyone can complain about that - I don’t think it’s an undue amount of time.
“Maybe when he first goes in it seems like that. But that’s only because it’s been highlighted, and everyone’s looking for it.”
It is just Trott’s slow set-up and crease-scratching which is annoying South Africa, though.
“It is pretty frustrating, I must admit,” said De Villiers.
“But it’s something [Graeme] Smith is dealing with, and the umpires are aware of that. All our bowlers have got little rhythms in their run-ups and it’s frustrating to them.
“It’s a tactic that might get him into trouble soon if he carries on doing it.
“I don’t think it’s too nice for the bowlers and disturbs their rhythm - but they have to get on with it.
“Graeme is talking to the umpires and to Trotty as well. He’s listening, but I think it’s a tactic. We’ll try and use it to our advantage tomorrow.”