Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Swann refuses to panic ahead of tense Ashes finale

Graeme Swann urged against panic as England strive for victory today in the second npower Ashes Test at Lord's.

An Australian fightback on the fourth evening jolted England, who had earlier reduced their opponents to 128 for five.

An unbeaten hundred from Michael Clarke and 80 not out from Brad Haddin sent Australia into the fifth morning on 313 for five, leaving them with 209 runs to get to seal a world-record chase.

With the second new ball just six overs old, however, Swann retained confidence in England knocking over five Australian batsmen.

“I am English,” said Swann. “We get nervous about anything: your football team can be 4-0 up at half-time and you daren't watch the second half.

“It will be a great day's cricket, it wouldn't be the Ashes if it wasn't like that, and I am glad these first two Test matches are living up to 2005 because the worst thing for me would be to play in my first Ashes series and it be a load of rubbish.

“For Australia to win this game they will have to break a world record — that's a very tough ask.

“They are in a much better position than they could have been but with a new ball and everyone fit and firing we have a chance for wickets because the first session is when they tend to tumble.

“We are going into the day very comfortable, it is still a mountain of runs for Australia to climb but they are in a much better position than they could have been.

“We were on cloud nine at one point, having them five wickets down, but you expect a good partnership at some stage on a good pitch, which is what it still is out there.”

When the new ball became available, Strauss called his troops together on the field for a pep talk.

But Swann, who was off the field receiving treatment for a cut finger at the time, said: “I can only assume it was a rallying cry.

“That we were getting the new ball and let's make it count. I can understand how some people could view it negatively but I don't see it that way at all.”

England have high-profile injuries to pace bowler Andrew Flintoff and star batsman Kevin Pietersen while Graham Onions has also experienced discomfort in his elbow, although he is expected to be fit to bowl.

If Australia were aggrieved at their lot with three of their dismissals — Simon Katich was dismissed off a no-ball, television replays cast doubt on the validity of Andrew Strauss' low catch to dismiss Phillip Hughes and Michael Hussey appeared to miss the ball completely as it spun and went to slip off Swann — coach Tim Nielsen refused to dwell on it.

“We can't do anything about that,” he said. “We knew at times things would go our way and things wouldn't whether it would be umpiring decisions or weather or how we were playing.”

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