The motion was put to the floor yesterday that Graeme Swann might become one of the greatest England bowlers in history. This was probably an example of being intoxicated either by the heady aroma of victory, or another unpleasant pong wafting across the Divisional Stadium.
Alastair Cook, the England captain, who has no qualms whatever in talking up his bowlers as if they all possessed the combined talents of Sidney Barnes, Fred Trueman and John Snow, was non-plussed. "Swanny, laugh-a-minute Swanny from Northampton," his mind seemed to tick over, "they're havin' a larf."
But he recovered sufficiently to say: "It's a massive shout that, but in the world at the moment everything is going right for him and the skill he has demonstrated consistently over the last few months shows it is no fluke."
Swann is indeed no fluke and in English terms he is a freak. England, not without a hint of boorishness provoked by being pushed hard in a game which had seemed to be there for the taking after two days, won the first Test against Bangladesh by 181 runs yesterday and he became the first England off-break bowler for 54 years to take 10 wickets in a Test match.
Off-spinners are the height of orthodoxy but rarely have they been enduringly incisive in the game. Swann's 10 for 217 were the best match figures by one of his breed for England since Jim Laker took 19 for 90 at Manchester against Australia in 1956. There have been sterling off-spinners since – David Allen, Ray Illingworth, Fred Titmus, John Emburey – but none had Swann's impact on events. Indeed, since Laker's feat there have been only 45 10-wicket hauls by off-spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan, a true freak, has 23 of them.
There is a temptation to point out that it was only Bangladesh. But Swann was bowling on a flat wicket against opponents who had discovered the ability to resist. It took England beyond lunch yesterday to take their first wicket of the day and end the heroic sixth-wicket resistance of Junaid Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim. They batted for almost 70 overs in compiling a record 167 for Bangladesh's sixth wicket and had managed to get up England's pipes. When Swann at last found one to take the edge of Siddique's bat, he sent him on his way with a clearly enunciated Anglo-Saxonism.
To his credit, Swann held his hands up later. There was no attempt to obfuscate, excuse or even joke. "It was in the heat of the moment," he said. "It was certainly not anything malicious and I apologise unreservedly if I did swear. I know I did swear, and it's not something I condone so I feel a bit ashamed of doing it. He batted phenomenally and it is testament to him that he did get everybody frustrated."
Siddique became the first Bangladeshi to score a Test hundred against England and Rahim undoubtedly deserved to become the second before he went on the walk against Swann and was bowled for 95. Their dedication to the cause was remarkable because for two days Bangladesh were plainly dreadful. By lunch yesterday, England might have started to fear the worst but the breach came quickly afterwards and the walls came tumbling down. Swann had innings figures of 5 for 127 and his record when Naeem Islam hit to mid-wicket where Michael Carberry took a low catch.
Cook acquitted himself in his first Test as captain without quite persuading observers that he might find new worlds. His trust in his bowlers was touching but his belief in their abilities consistently to reverse-swing the ball – which England understandably see as a vital weapon – may be misplaced.
Stuart Broad endeared himself to nobody when he had Abdur Razzaq leg before for the eighth wicket and merely pelted down the pitch on appealing instead of waiting for the umpire's verdict. It was clearly out – though umpires have begged to differ in plenty of similar circumstances – but it was unedifying behaviour.
England rightly like to play hard and, as Cook pointed out, Test cricket is a tough arena. But there is toughness and there is petulance because the opposition are giving you a game you did not expect. Swann was worth his wickets in 80 overs in the match, though he was nullified for long periods. England were well worth their win, but they need to watch their manners sometimes. Let them be pukka in Dhaka.
(Final day of five); Bangladesh won toss
England: First Innings 599-6 dec (Cook 173, Collingwood 145, Pietersen 99, Bell 84)
Bangladesh: First Innings 296 (Iqbal 86, Rahim 79, Mahmudullah 51, Swann 5-90).
England: Second Innings 209-7 dec (S Al Hasan 4-62)
Bangladesh: Second Innings
J Siddique c Collingwood b Swann 106, 292 balls 17 fours
M Rahim b Swann 95, 232 balls 12 fours
†N Islam c Carberry b Swann 36, 45 balls 3 fours 3 sixes
A Razzak lbw b Broad 1, 7 balls
S Hossain c Prior b Bresnan 12, 22 balls 2 fours
R Hossain not out 0, 0 balls
Extras (b 2, lb 7) 9
Total (124 overs) 331
Fall: 6-277 (Siddique), 7-294 (Rahim), 8-301 (Razzak), 9-327 (Hossain), 10-331 (Islam).
Bowling: S Broad 24-7-65-1 (4-2-7-0, 4-2-10-0, 4-1-17-0; 5-0-22-0; 7-2-9-1), T Bresnan 24-7-63-3 (4-0-18-0, 6-1-21-2, 2-1-1-0, 4-2-5-0; 3-2-4-0; 3-1-8-0; 2-0-6-1), S Finn 18-7-47-1 (7-1-27-1, 4-3-4-0; 2-1-4-0; 5-2-12-0), G Swann 49-11-127-5 (25-5-56-2, 2-1-2-0, 2-0-3-0; 3-1-6-0; 3-0-12-0; 14-4-48-3), K Pietersen 7-1-15-0 (3-1-2-0, 2-0-9-0, 2-0-4-0), J Trott 2-0-5-0 (one spell).
Progress Last day Lunch 277-5 (Siddique 106, Rahim 91) 106.0 overs, 300 in 114.0 overs.
Junaid Siddique 100: 262 balls, 16 fours. Mushfiqur Rahim 50: 107 balls, 7 fours.
Umpires: A L Hill NZ) & R J Tucker (Aus)
TV replay umpire: Enamul Haque (Bangla)
Match referee: JJ Crowe (NZ).Reuse content