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Graeme Swann takes six wickets in England tour match

Tour match, Buffalo Park, East London:
England 329-8 dec drew with South Africa Airways XI 167-7
Match scorecard

England's fielders had to negotiate huge expanses of sawdust
England's fielders had to negotiate huge expanses of sawdust

Graeme Swann warmed up for the Test series starting next Wednesday by taking 6-55 against a South Africa Invitational XI in East London.

After much of Wednesday's play had been lost to rain, the match was drawn with the hosts 167-7 in reply to England's 329-8 declared at Buffalo Park.

Ian Bell (48no) and Matt Prior (44no) both retired at lunch, with Swann then clubbing a quick-fire 39.

He then took charge with the ball after Graham Onions claimed an early wicket.

England begin another two-day warm-up on Friday - their last match preparation ahead of the first Test starting on 16 December.

With uncertainty still surrounding James Anderson's recovery from a mystery knee injury - the Lancastrian and fit-again Ryan Sidebottom are both expected to play on Friday - England would have wanted to see the three seamers make pressing cases for Test selection.

Ian Bell congratulates Graeme Swann on a wicket
Top scorer Ian Bell congratulates Graeme Swann on a wicket

However, of the 31 overs they shared, they only had the one wicket from Onions to celebrate - with Swann's off-spin proving much harder to deal with on a slow wicket.

Though Mark Davies failed to make an instant impression in his first match under Andrew Strauss, Stuart Broad disappointed the most of England's bowlers. He took time to find his rhythm and was hit for a number of boundaries in 11 overs costing 55.

Earlier in the day, Alastair Cook's 81 and a stand of 83 between Ian Bell and Matt Prior on a slow surface provided evidence that England's batting - despite low scores from three of the top four on Wednesday - has strength in depth.

Groundstaff performed wonders to get play under way on time, after heavy rain yesterday, and the teams had to compromise, taking the field with huge expanses of sawdust needed to soak up mud around the square.

After Paul Collingwood had fallen for 33 in the first full over of the day when he chipped a straightforward catch to short midwicket off Siya Ntshona, Cook departed half an hour later.

606: DEBATE
lethal_strauss

He failed to stay on top of a drive and was well caught at mid-on by the tumbling Wendell Bossinger to give Charl Pietersen his third wicket.

Bell and Prior quickly achieved a fluency which had proved beyond some, taking advantage of vulnerable back-up bowling - as did Swann after lunch.

When England opted to give their bowlers a meaningful stint, it was all about Swann, who took three of his wickets in the space of four balls.

Onions struck with the first ball of the fifth over after opener Andrea Agathagelou moved dangerously across his stumps and was defeated by swing to fall lbw.

Swann's first victim was Divan van Wyk, lbw to Swann's second delivery just before tea.

The Nottinghamshire man doubled up soon after tea when Temba Bavuma propped a catch to short-leg, and added a third wicket when collecting a return catch from Piet van Niekerk's mishit.

Ian Bell
Bell will be pleased to have a score under his belt in his first tour game

Sammy-Joe Avontuur was the most successful of the South African batsmen - but on 68 he charged down the track at Swann to be stumped, and two more players fell in the same over in a morale-boosting spell for England's number one spinner.

He would have had his first hat-trick at any level if a ball that spun over Mangaliso Mosehle's stumps had bounced an inch or two lower. The next one bowled him.

Swann revealed afterwards that wicket-keeper Prior had done his best to bring about Mosehle's wicket with some allegedly good-natured sledging.

"The next ball pitched in exactly the same place, and hit the stumps," said Swann.

"The batsman was still laughing. Matt Prior had said something funny, and he was still giggling when I ran up to bowl. He said: 'The two things you should never do - cut a spinner and pat a burning dog'. Bless Prior for that."

Meanwhile, the latest indications from the South Africa camp are that injured all-rounder Jacques Kallis may yet be able to appear in the first Test - if necessary as a batsman alone.

Kallis has spent time in an oxygen chamber to aid his recovery from a broken rib - and although he is still rated a doubt for Centurion, South Africa are confident he will be able to bat and bowl from the second Test onwards.



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see also
Cook rescues England in tour game
09 Dec 09 |  England
Anderson to miss England warm-up
08 Dec 09 |  England
Poor weather frustrates Pietersen
07 Dec 09 |  England
Gooch non-committal on coach role
06 Dec 09 |  England
Seamer Davies handed England call
05 Dec 09 |  England
Rain hands England one-day series
04 Dec 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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