Swann emphasises his importance to the England cause

Updated: Aug 20, 2010, 12:26 PM IST

London: Graeme Swann underlined his growing importance to the England side and celebrated a personal landmark on Thursday with his 100th Test wicket in 23 matches.

In an age of mystery spinners, Swann`s achievements with orthodox off-spin have been remarkable and his record stands comparison with any right-arm finger spinner in the history of the game.

Among off-spinners, only Indian Erapalli Prasanna (20) and South Africa`s Hugh Tayfield (22) have reached the century mark quicker than Swann who made his Test debut at the end of 2008 against India, taking two wickets in his opening over.

On Thursday he bowled unchanged throughout the afternoon session of the second day of the third Test against Pakistan at the Oval, finishing the day with four for 68 after the fast bowlers for once in this series had failed to break through.

His 100th victim was Mohammad Yousuf, one of the great Pakistan batsmen, who has returned to the team after a turbulent six months.

"I was delighted to get Yousuf," Swann told a news conference. "It was the first time I`ve played against him."

"It`s the first time I`ve seen him bat first hand and he looked the class player he is. To get him as the 100th, he would probably have been the man on the team sheet I would have picked before the game."

"I realised I was on 97 because my mum told me and she told me she was looking forward to watching me get it. She`s going to the Proms (music concert) tonight and she said I had to get it quickly so she didn`t miss the start."

Subdued Swann

Swann, 31, who for off-field recreation sings in the band Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations, and who deals largely in wisecracks when facing in the media was subdued on Thursday after an eventful week.

He missed Monday`s practice session while he appeared in court on a drink-driving charge which has been adjourned until October and on Wednesday he was inexplicably left off the International Cricket Council`s (ICC) list of contenders for the international cricketer of the year. The ICC apologised on Thursday for what it called an oversight and added Swann to the original list of 16.

Swann is an important reason for England`s decision to field a four-man attack and play six specialist batsmen, a format they will follow when they defend the Ashes in Australia later in the year.

He can contain when conditions are at their best in the opposition`s first innings and attack in the second. On Thursday he did both, bowling 22 overs and keeping his team in the game after they had scored only 233 in their first innings.

England still trail by 69 with nine second innings wickets in hand and have a job on their hands on Friday.

"There`s no doubt about it, we`re behind the eight ball a little bit with that deficit," Swann said. "But at the end of the day it`s a cracking batting pitch still so we will be looking to put a big total up second time around."

Bureau Report