Ashes scare as Swann receives an X-ray okay
GRAEME SWANN was cleared to play against Essex after an X-ray had given him the thumbs-up.
The veteran bowler was suspected of fracturing his right arm, but was able to field and bowl in the warm-up match in Chelmsford.
England were given a fleeting injury scare over their first-choice spinner, only nine days before the start of the first Ashes Test.
But they confirmed Swann had suffered no serious injury – and there was physical evidence of his wellbeing while Essex’s last pair Tymal Mills and Tom Craddock took the hosts to 278 all out early on day three of four.
By lunch, against an attack depleted by David Masters’ Achilles injury, Alastair Cook helped to extend England’s first-innings lead of 135 by another 80 for the loss of only Joe Root. Essex’s numbers 10 and 11 had earlier excelled themselves.
Their stand of 47 belied a combined firstclass average of 13, but did have one moment of fortune.
Craddock was given not out on nine after appearing to get an inside-edge on to his body which looped to Kevin Pietersen at gully off Steven Finn.
Mills had already hit Swann, Tim Bresnan and Root on the forearm, helmet and knee with his left-arm pace in this match – and in a sparkling first halfhour he was at it again with a bat in his hand.
Short-leg Ian Bell was in the firing line this time as Mills cracked a ball from Finn into the close fielder’s knee.
Bell was limping, but wasn’t seriously hurt.
Mills was not content with that blow, though – and after hitting Root out of the attack, he turned his attention to Swann again.
The off-spinner got his revenge, but only after conceding 19 runs in his 1.3 overs.
Mills clubbed the first two balls of Swann’s second over for six, over cow corner and then straight.
But after resorting to unaccustomed backfoot defence for the next delivery, he missed it and was bowled for a career-best 31.
Cook had an early let-off, on five, in England’s second innings when Sajid Mahmood failed to hold a return catch.
Otherwise, he and Root made a stand of 76 until the latter missed an attempted pull at leg-spinner Craddock and had to go lbw.
Essex’s resources were then further compromised after Mills had to leave the field with a sore hamstring.