Graeme Swann seeks positives on tough day for England
Third Test, The Oval: England v Pakistan Dates: 18-22 August Start time: 1100 BST Coverage: Live ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave, the Red Button and BBC Sport website; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles; Also live on Sky Sports, with daily highlights on Five
Swann stays positive as England toil
By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport at The Oval
Graeme Swann looked for positives after a tough second day of the third Test at The Oval, claiming it could hold England in good stead for the Ashes.
Off-spinner Swann passed 100 wickets for England in just his 23rd Test but Pakistan still made 308 all out, a first innings lead of 75.
"I don't think it can do us any harm," Swann told BBC Sport.
"It was a tough day, but let's make no bones about it, there will be some tough days over the next six months."
Swann's four wicket kept England in the game when Pakistan threatened a big lead.
"We did really well to restrict Pakistan to 308 on that pitch, it was a fine effort from our bowlers," added the Nottinghamshire star.
England lost Andrew Strauss just before the close as the hosts finished the day 6-1 in their second innings, still 69 runs behind.
And Swann, who finished with figures of 4-68, admitted that setback had made England's task a more difficult one but backed Strauss's under-pressure opening partner Alastair Cook, who was unbeaten on nought, to get a score.
"Losing Andrew Strauss was a blow because he's such a great player for us and we would have liked to have walked away none down," said Swann.
"But we've got some quality players left in the dressing room and we're confident we can post a good total.
"'Cookie' has got such an old head on young shoulders and we're confident he can do a job. He has the backing of the whole changing room - and me as his 'batting buddy'."
Meanwhile, Swann said he would like to emulate Shane Warne and eventually take 600 Test wickets after making Mohammad Yousuf, who made 56 on his return to the side, his 100th.
"If I look back to this time last year and the Ashes series, I didn't think things could get any better, but it has been," said Swann.
"It's the first time I've played against Yousuf. It was nice to watch him bat - he's a class player - so I'm delighted to get him as my 100th victim.
"I looked down the team and thought he's the one I'd have wanted out of their line-up.
Butt pleased with Pakistan display
"He looked fairly comfortable over the wicket so you've got to do try different things to make things happen.
"For me, Shane Warne is the greatest spin bowler who ever lived so if I can match him to 100 then hopefully I can match him to 600."
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis was full of praise for Yousuf, who was called up late to the tour after being banned indefinitely by the Pakistan Cricket Board in March following infighting on the ill-fated winter tour to Australia.
"Yousuf is one of the Pakistan greats and he's done so well over last decade or so, so it was good to have him back in the dressing room," Waqar told BBC Sport.
It's been a really tough tour, with the ball swinging in the last couple of Test matches, but I was really pleased with how Azhar batted
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis
"There's not too many in the dressing room with that kind of experience and he's helping the youngsters, which is key.
"He went out today and took Azhar Ali [who made an unbeaten 92] along with him and Azhar then took on a huge responsibility when Yousuf was out.
"It's been a really tough tour, with the ball swinging in the last couple of Test matches, but I was really pleased with how Azhar batted, it was pleasing to see him stroking the ball and being a bit more positive - hopefully things will start rolling for us now.
"It could have been better but I'm really pleased, especially picking up that wicket in the last half an hour.
"We've suffered a lot through the series but what we really want are a couple of early wickets on Friday to put England under pressure. I'm happy with the situation at the moment."
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