Ton-up Swann leads England fightback

GRAEME SWANN finally received the recognition he deserved from the ICC yesterday – and then celebrated by leading the England charge in the third Test with Pakistan at The Oval.

The world’s No3-ranked bowler was a surprising omission from the 16-man nomination list for the prestigious ICC Cricketer of the Year, despite spinning his way to 93 international wickets in the past 12 months.

But West Indian legend Clive Lloyd, who heads the selection panel, yesterday apologised to the 31-year-old, describing his absence as a “genuine oversight”.

Clearly riled by his omission, Swann took his frustration out on the Pakistani top order, leading the England recovery as they protected a measly first innings total of 233.

Swann claimed three wickets either side of lunch to finish with figures of 4-68 from 27.2 overs as the tourists limped to 308 in reply – a lead of 75 – thanks largely to a gutsy unbeaten 92 from Azhar Ali.

At the same time, Swann also etched his name in Test folklore after his caught-and-bowled dismissal of Mohammad Yousuf for 56 brought up his 100th Test wicket in just his 23rd Test – the same number of matches as spin legends Shane Warne and Saqlain Mushtaq.

Pakistan then turned the screw again, however, with the prized scalp of captain Andrew Strauss for four just before close as England closed on 6-1 – still 69 behind.

Resuming on 48-1, Pakistan suffered an early blow when Steven Finn struck with the second ball of the day to trap Yasir Hameed for 36, edging to keeper Matt Prior.

Swann then accounted for captain Salman Butt (17) and nightwatchman Wahab Riaz for a stubborn 27 before making inroads with the prized wicket of Yousuf.

“There’s no doubt about it, we’re behind the eight ball a little bit because of the deficit, but it’s still a cracking batting track,” Swann admitted.