Graeme Swann was less chirpy than usual last night but blamed that on a bout of the lurgy rather than England's somewhat sickly position at The Oval. And, cough and cold apart, there was still plenty for him to feel cheery about on a personal note.
By dismissing Mohammad Yousuf, Swann reached 100 Test wickets on the same day when he quite rightly found himself added to the International Cricket Council's longlist of candidates for the Player of the Year award. Less than two years after making his debut in India, the off-spinner is now firmly established as being among the best in the slow bowling business.
"I realised I was on 97 at the start of the day because my mum told me – and she said she's only here to watch me get it," said Swann, who managed to rise above his illness not only to bowl like a champion but deliver a couple of one-liners. "She was going to the Proms so said I had to get it quickly so she didn't miss the start. I'm glad I could get it before tea so she could bugger off."
But, more seriously, the identity of the victim (and the fact that he needed only 23 Tests, the same as Shane Warne, for example, to reach 100 Test wickets) clearly thrilled Swann.
"I was delighted to get Yousuf," he said. "It's the first time I've played against him and he looked like the class player he is. He would probably be the man on their team sheet I would have picked before the game to get as my 100th wicket.
"I saw on TV that I was in the ICC's list and I was expecting congratulations from the changing room, but all I got was the mickey taken that apparently I hadn't been on it in the first instance."
England may need Swann to make a decent start on his second hundred wickets if they are to win here. First, though, the home side must build a commanding total – and give their spinner time to stop coughing and spluttering.
"I feel dreadful," said the man who has also had to contend with a court appearance this week after pleading not guilty to drink-driving. And what about the match position?
"There's no doubt we are behind the eight ball a little bit," admitted Swann. "But it's a cracking batting pitch still, so we'll be hoping to put up a big total second time around. We can't bat as badly as we did first innings and it's a perfect chance for any of our batters to get a big score."
Including the under pressure Alastair Cook? "I've every faith in Cookie that he's going to do it tomorrow," was Swann's parting shot.Reuse content