Cricket: Swann's star turn decisive

Click to follow
Pakistan Under-19 276 & 282 England Under-19 430 & 130-3 England U-19 win by 7 wickets

GRAEME SWANN, Northamptonshire's 19-year-old off-spinner, will no longer qualify at this age level when England tour New Zealand in the spring, but he must have high hopes of graduating to England A instead after his record-breaking performance yesterday.

Turning the ball square, and exploiting the generous bounce in the wicket by pitching at a teasing length, Swann took eight Pakistan wickets in their second innings, leaving England to make 129 to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series, a target duly reached by Owais Shah and Stephen Peters.

Swann's 8 for 118 was the best English analysis in 85 youth Tests, and his bag of 19 so far is already a series record, surpassing Ryan Sidebottom's 16 last year against the far weaker Zimbabwe side.

This has been an excellent four-day match, and credit must go not just to the players, but also to the Somerset groundsman, Phil Frost, who produced a classic wicket. It rewarded seam bowling for most of the first day, the bat then gained ascendancy, and from the third afternoon spin took over.

Although Pakistan could never dominate after losing six wickets on the first morning, they buckled down to their task. Irfan Fazil bowls a vicious swinger, Shoaib Malik's off-spin gave little away, while Hasan Raza shone both with his leg breaks and elegant batting.

For England, Kent's opener Robert Key was solid, both technically and physically, and Pakistan fought for their consolation wickets yesterday afternoon, but by and large the day went Swann's way.