Graeme Swann spins England to victory in warm-up match against Essex

Graeme Swann took five wickets against Essex in England’s warm-up ahead of The Ashes © Getty Images

London: Jul 3, 2013

Spinner Graeme Swann gave Australia a timely reminder of his ability by taking five wickets as England warmed-up for next week’s first Ashes Test with a 228-run win over Essex on Wednesday.

Essex, who set a second innings target of 415 to win at their Chelmsford headquarters east of London, collapsed to 186 all out on the final day of four with off-spinner Swann taking five for 68.

Earlier in the match, while batting, Swann — England’s premier off-spinner and widely viewed as a more potent bowler than Australia counterpart Nathan Lyon — suffered an injury to his bowling arm, having had an operation on his right elbow earlier in the year.

However, X-rays cleared Swann of a fracture and left him all set to take his place in England’s team at his Nottinghamshire home ground of Trent Bridge for the start of their Ashes defence, which begins with the first Test commencing a week on Wednesday.

Durham’s Graham Onions, looking to break into England’s settled seam attack, pressed his case with three wickets for no runs on the way to a return of four for 43 as Essex lost five for 11 either side of tea.

At least England were bowling to something akin to the Essex side that started a match stripped of its first-class status on Tuesday’s third day when injuries deprived Essex of two seamers.

The fact the duo were replaced by two bowlers who didn’t start the match in Essex’s Reece Topley and England’s Boyd Rankin, ‘loaned’ to the hosts by the national side, transformed what had been a first-class match into something akin to a glorified net session.

“Farcical” was the word bandied about in many British press reports and although England’s intention was to give their batsmen more testing practice, they still advanced comfortably enough to 279 for four declared with captain Alastair Cook (82) and Jonathan Trott (79) both retired out.

The aim was clearly to give the likes of Jonny Bairstow, who’d played just one county Twenty20 match since starring at his Headingley home ground in England’s second Test win over New Zealand in May, some more time in the middle.

But Bairstow, in the squad but a spectator during England’s run last month to a ICC Champions Trophy 2013 final they lost to India at Edgbaston, could only manage 28 in under an hour before he was bowled by Rankin following a first innings 23.

Essex offered some initial resistance when they batted a second time with a first-wicket stand of 91 between Jaik Mickleburgh (58) and New Zealand’s Hamish Rutherford (45).

Swann was kept waiting until his sixth over for his first wicket of the innings, which came when Rutherford missed a slog sweep and was bowled off stump by a turning delivery.

The off-spinner then had former England batsman Owais Shah caught for a duck by Trott at slip.

Mickleburgh, shortly after completing his second fifty of the match, then holed out to Cook at short midwicket as he too fell to Swann.

Onions then got in on the act before Swann ended the match when he had David Masters caught in the deep.