England hero Swann hails 'dream' year

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The Independent Online

England's spin hero Graeme Swann admitted he was enjoying a "dream" year after claiming nine wickets in his side's innings victory over South Africa in Durban today which puts them 1-0 up in the four-Test series with two matches to play.

Swann was in superb form throughout the match and his five for 54 in the second innings was key as the tourists capitulated to 133 all out to lose by an innings and 98 runs after England had struck 574 for nine declared.

Swann told Sky Sports 1: "It's been a bit of a dream the last 12 months but I'm not going to complain. I've waited a long time to get back into Test cricket and I'm enjoying every moment of it.

"In the first innings I thought I had a chance of five (wickets) but then Dale Steyn kept hitting me out of the ground, but that happens sometimes when you're a spinner.

"I didn't expect to do as much bowling as I have, but the pitches have been slower than we expected and have turned more."

England and South Africa now move on to Cape Town for the third Test, which starts on Sunday.

England captain Andrew Strauss was delighted with his side's display and said: "It's not far off the best performance I've seen from an England side, certainly away from home.

"We realise that the series is still alive and we've got to do a lot more hard work in Cape Town and Joburg but right now we're just delighted we've stuck to our plan in this game."

Strauss was particularly pleased for batsman Ian Bell, whose position in the side had been under threat coming into this match but who responded with a top score of 140 in England's successful innings.

"It was great to see Belly get a hundred," he added.

"People have been questioning his place in the side and he had to stand up and deliver and he played beautifully.

"I'm really pleased for him and hopefully he has answered some of his critics."

Stuart Broad, who took four for 43 in South Africa's second innings for a match haul of six for 87, drew comparisons with the start to England's successful Ashes series against Australia.

"It is very important to continue our momentum now," Broad told Sky Sports.

"It is a very similar to the Ashes in how it has gone so far. We hung on in the first Test and then won this one.

"Now we've got to keep it going. We must not look too far ahead. We need to get off to a good start in the first session of the next Test in Cape Town."

Broad, who is now seventh in the world bowling rankings, admitted he is still on a bowling learning curve.

"I am always looking to keep learning," he stressed.

"I am very fortunate to have played in a lot of countries already.

"I looked at footage of how Shaun Pollock picked up his wickets over here and saw that he did not always have the seam straight up. So I've been trying to make the ball wobble a bit more.

"In this match I watched Morkel bowling. He was their most dangerous bowler and I tried to do what he was doing.

"I think we did well to get it reversing as quickly as we did. I prefer reverse swing to conventional swing as it goes quite late and that makes it harder for batsmen to play."

Asked which of his wickets he had given him the greatest satisfaction, Broad had no hesitation in singling out bowling Jacques Kallis, who mistakenly left an inswinger that ripped out his off stump.

"Kallis leaving that one was the pick of them," he said.

"It was a crucial moment in the game. We know he can bat for a huge amount of time and it was great to see the back of him."

Broad, who struggled when given the new ball in the opening Test in Centurion, fared much better as a change bowler in Durban but is still keen to develop into a new ball bowler.

"It is something I would like to do but I am comfortable doing any job that is asked of me," he added.

"I've got the job of hitting top of off stump consistently and I cannot have any complaints in this game."

Losing captain Graeme Smith felt England had been "more precise" but vowed his team would bounce back in Cape Town.

He told Sky Sports 1: "The (second-innings) collapse was through England performing really well and the pressure they created on us throughout the game.

"From the time we started with the ball England outplayed us all throughout the middle part of the Test match in the crucial aspects. They were far more precise than us and definitely deserved their victory.

"From our perspective we've got to look at ourselves in the middle and hopefully bounce back very quickly."

South Africa posted a respectable first-innings total of 343 but England's response was inspired, as Alastair Cook (118) and Paul Collingwood (91) joined Bell in recording high scores in a declared total of 574.

It was then the turn of England's attack to take centre stage in the hosts' second innings as they were skittled out for 133, Broad adding four wickets for 43 to add to Swann's haul.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur conceded that the pressure had got to his team on this occasion but rejected the notion that his side 'choke' when the stakes are at their highest.

He told Sky Sports: "The pressure got to us a little bit, scoreboard pressure is always tough. England made us play and asked us a lot of questions.

"I guess until we win an ICC event there is going to be that tag around us, but certainly we were under pressure the whole of last year through the England tour and the Australia tour yet we made those moments count.

"We didn't here, and that's why England are 1-0 up."

Arthur still believes the Proteas can turn the series around in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

"I've got no doubt we can improve considerably for Cape Town and certainly for The Wanderers and hopefully this is a series which goes to the wire now."