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Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Five-wicket haul crowns Graeme Swann's 'dream' year

Graeme Swann
Swann's highest Test score of 85 came in the first Test at Centurion

England's Graeme Swann admitted 2009 has been a "dream" for him after sealing an innings win for England in the second Test against South Africa.

The Nottinghamshire bowler claimed his fourth five-wicket haul to become the first English spinner to pass 50 wickets in a calendar year.

"It's been a bit of a dream the last 12 months," he said.

"But I'm just happy when I get a chance to bowl and bat for England. I'm having the time of my life."

Swann is now third in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) bowling rankings behind South Africa's Dale Steyn and Australia's Mitchell Johnson.

The 30-year-old, who spent more than seven years out of international cricket after making his one-day debut in 2000, is ready for the extra attention he will be paid in 2010.

"If people do take more notice of me, then great. But I will keep running up and trying to put the ball in the right place," he said.

"Certainly, I don't think I am the finished article. I still bowl balls I'm not happy with."

Swann, who was called up to the Test squad in 1999 and 2000 but failed to make the final XI against either New Zealand or South Africa, marked his debut with two wickets in his first over against India in Chennai in December 2008.

"I had a chance before, but I never really had a chance because I wasn't good enough at the time," he said.

"Luckily for me I had the chance to go back into the county game and just improve steadily and I'm in a much better place now to play Test cricket and succeed at it.

"If I had played seven or eight years ago I might have played a handful of Tests and never been seen again, who knows?"

Swann was joined in a four-man attack by county team-mate Stuart Broad, who chipped in with four wickets to leave the home side 98 runs adrift of England's first-innings total.

The 23-year-old Broad said the 574 posted by England's batsmen made things easier in the field.

"That's what scoreboard pressure can do and I think you saw that with the three 'leaves' that were hitting the stumps," he said.

"We don't care who takes the wickets as long as we get 20 in total."

Broad, who has failed to match his Test batting average of over 28 runs in any of his three innings so far in the series, repeated his ambition to move up the order.


"I want to contribute with a few more runs in this series, I want to push for number seven at some stage but I have to put in a few more performances for that," he said.

The third and penultimate Test begins in Cape Town on 3 January with England aiming to become the first side other than Australia to win a Test series in the country for five years.

But captain Andrew Strauss urged his side not to get carried away with their emphatic victory, which gave them a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

"It's not far off the best performance I have seen from an England side, especially away from home," he said.

"But we have to keep our feet on the ground. It can be all too easy to pat yourself on the back but one up with two to play is a great place to be."

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see also
Michael Vaughan Q&A
31 Dec 09 |  Cricket
England wrap up emphatic Test win
30 Dec 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
30 Dec 09 |  England
Bell thrilled to silence doubters
29 Dec 09 |  England
England close in on Test victory
29 Dec 09 |  England
South Africa v England photos
29 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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