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Graeme Swann: This means far more to me than ‘tainted’ haul of 2010


Graeme Swann became the first England spinner to take five wickets in an Ashes Test at Lord’s for 79 years and admitted that he will cherish it far more than his “tainted” achievement in 2010.

Swann’s 5 for 44 in Australia’s first innings helped England bowl out the tourists for 128, and made them favourites to win this match. Even though Peter Siddle removed Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen before the close, England lead by 264, with seven second- innings wickets still intact.

Swann will have to take all 10 wickets when Australia bat again to match the achievement of Hedley Verity, who collected 15 in the match in 1934. Yet this means more to Swann than his 5 for 62 against Pakistan here three years ago, in the game that would be remembered for the spot-fixing scandal that led to prison sentences for Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

“I was on the honours board once before against Pakistan in a game that was tainted, so to get my name there in an Ashes Test is a boyhood dream,” said Swann, who spent  time off the field before lunch after being struck on the right forearm while batting.

The blow was in a similar spot to the one inflicted by Tymal Mills during England’s warm-up match against Essex, and Swann admitted: “There was a bit of a worry in the first two or three overs I bowled.

“There was not a great deal of feeling and I had a few problems gripping the ball, but they disappeared after I took my second wicket.

 “It was a strange day, one of those where wickets fall (16 in total) and you’re happy to be on the bowling side for most of them. We thought 400 was about par and we reluctantly accepted 361, so it was fantastic to bowl out Australia for a total so far below ours.

“But Australia bounced back well in the evening and that will have  buoyed them. We need to regroup again – just as we did in the first innings when we were 28 for 3.”

It was a day on which batsmen often gave away their wickets, the symbol of which was Swann’s  outrageous leg-before decision against Chris Rogers – from a waist-high full toss. Rogers somehow missed the ball and to complete his misery, replays showed the Australia opener would have been reprieved had he chosen to refer the decision. Swann smiled: “I’m not sure there has been a worse piece of cricket in Test history.”

It was no laughing matter for the tourists’ coach, Darren Lehmann, who said “I need a beer” to an Australian colleague as he prepared to face journalists’ questions.

“It was a bad day,” he admitted. “We didn’t bat well and our referrals could have been better. We’ve got the reviews right from the bowling side, but now the batsmen need to do it better. It was more one-day batting than Test batting and we need to learn from our mistakes. ”