Ashes scare as Swann re­ceives an X-ray okay

CRICKET

Midweek Sport - - SPORT -

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.

Cracked

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.

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