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Page last updated at 21:39 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Swann haul puts England in charge

Third Test, Antigua (day three, close):
England 566-9 dec & 31-1 v West Indies 285

By Jamie Lillywhite

Graeme Swann
Swann made his Test debut against India at Chennai last December

Graeme Swann claimed a five-wicket haul as England bowled out West Indies for 285 and finished day three of the third Test in Antigua 312 runs ahead at 31-1.

Swann took two wickets before lunch but England wilted in the sun as Ramnaresh Sarwan hit 14 fours and a six in 94.

But spinner Swann, in his third Test, struck twice in two balls to claim 5-57 and Andrew Flintoff took 3-47 as the last three wickets fell in three overs.

England decided not to enforce the follow-on but lost Andrew Strauss.

Swann, 29, who took two wickets in his first over at Test level against India late last year, fully justified the last-minute decision to include him at the expense of Monty Panesar.

The Nottinghamshire spinner's success sweetened a difficult day for England who, on a sweltering day, were hindered by their two senior fast bowlers being unable to fire on all cylinders.

Steve Harmison was suffering from an illness caused by the heat, and Flintoff had a similar problem, plus a niggling injury.

The tourists were also perhaps guilty of being pre-occupied with the much-fabled ridge across the wicket of the Antigua Recreation Ground.

England's bowlers appeared to forget about line, so any deliveries that did shoot along the uneven deck did not threaten the stumps.

Swann began the day with what appeared to be a token over to allow Harmison to bowl from the Factory Road End.

But one ball turned extravagantly and, luckily for England, his bold variations of pace and flight kept him in the captain's thoughts.

Devon Smith, Matt Prior
England were wicketless in the first hour before Smith's loose shot

Night-watchman Daren Powell, a former schoolboy opening batsman, played commendably straight, but enjoyed more than his fair share of good fortune.

Twice he managed to slice through a narrow gap between third slip and gully, and on 19 he clearly edged a drive at Swann to Matt Prior.

The Windies survived the first hour but the second ball after the drinks break accounted for Devon Smith, who played an uncharacteristic swipe at one that drifted, brushed the pad and bowled him.

Stuart Broad bowled the best line of the pace quartet, but it was in the field that he came close to claiming the next wicket when he almost ran out Powell.

Powell was eventually well caught low at slip by Paul Collingwood, but Sarwan was full of intent from the outset and drove Swann for four and then launched one over mid-wicket for six.

The ever-industrious Flintoff, though troubled by a hip problem, got one to climb at Ryan Hinds but he fended it short of Kevin Pietersen diving forward in the gully.

With frustration growing in the field, Pietersen produced one sharply spinning off-break that almost squeezed through Sarwan, but it looked as though the closest England would come to dislodging the Guyanese was when he crashed a drive painfully into his inside leg.

Hinds had been content to play watchfully, scoring only 17 from 65 balls, before Pietersen's inconsistency allowed him to sweep a four and throw the kitchen sink at another that went all the way for six.

But with Strauss perhaps wondering if Prior might have to turn his arm over, the dependable Flintoff tempted the left-hander to edge to the keeper's left, ending a partnership of 70.

The breakthrough was welcome but on such an arduous day England would not have relished the sight of the limpet-like Shivnarine Chanderpaul walking out to bat, a man with a Test average of 100 in the last two years.

He was out eight balls later, however, well caught low to his left by Prior as Broad collected a deserved wicket.

Broad should have added the scalp of Sarwan on 63 but a sharply struck return chance squeezed through his hands.


England turned to Collingwood after tea but Sarwan displayed his full range of strokes, an exquisitely played drive down the ground followed by another boundary, a glorious cover drive that took him into the 90s.

With 116 still needed to save the follow-on, Sarwan, maybe trying to reach three figures with a six, was lured down the pitch by Swann but mistimed his drive and found the safe hands of Flintoff at short mid-wicket.

The dismissal of Denesh Ramdin, who chipped back a full toss to a grateful Swann, gave England genuine hope of ending the innings, something that appeared highly unlikely just a couple of hours earlier.

Jerome Taylor kept out the hat-trick ball but was soon pinned on the helmet by Harmison, who returned with a testing spell.

James Anderson took the new ball with Broad, who should have trapped Nash on 11 with a fine yorker.

But umpire Daryl Harper not only rejected the appeal but gave the leg-bye as a run.

It did not prove significant as Nash was caught at second slip, and Swann celebrated his maiden five-wicket haul by trapping the giant Sulieman Benn on the front pad, before an exhausted Flintoff ended the innings by clutching Taylor's steepling top edge off his own bowling.

With several of the England bowlers feeling the strain, the decision was made to allow them to rest, though why Anderson was sent in as night-watchman after Strauss was caught at second slip for 14 was not so easy to understand.

However, the next major decision for the captain as he bids to level the series will be more important - that of when to announce his declaration.

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see also
West Indies v England photos
17 Feb 09 |  England
ECB suspends talks with Stanford
18 Feb 09 |  England
Strauss ton puts England on top
15 Feb 09 |  England
England crash to innings defeat
07 Feb 09 |  England
First Test abandoned
30 Jan 98 |  Sport

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