England v New Zealand: Graeme Swann seals emphatic series win

England v New Zealand: Graeme Swann's six-wicket haul helps the hosts complete a resounding 2-0 series victory at Headingley

Harry Kemble
By Harry Kemble

Graeme Swann’s six-wicket haul ended New Zealand’s hopes of escaping from the rain-affected second Test with a draw on day five as England completed a resounding 2-0 series victory.

Captain Alastair Cook’s decision on Sunday not to enforce the follow-on had been met with howls of derision from some quarters after weather reports for Tuesday showed spells of heavy rain.

Thankfully, for the hosts, however, they found just enough time to take the remaining four wickets dismissing the Black Caps for 220, thus gaining vital impetus with the Ashes just 42 days away.

Swann – the main architect in New Zealand’s downfall – will have been ecstatic to have been named England’s man-of-match for his figures of 41-13-132-10, having been overlooked for the Headingley Test last summer against South Africa.

On Tuesday, the off spinner insisted he “was not a bitter man” when quizzed about England’s selection decision last year, and he made it clear that he was more overjoyed by his recovery from the recent elbow operation that saw him miss the away Test series versus Brendon Mc Cullum’s outfit in March.

The 34-year-old twirler lauded the work of Shawn O’Driscoll – the surgeon, who he accredits for “saving his career” at the presentation ceremony.

The statistic that will most please Swann is of his ten dismissals in this Test was only one was a left-handed batsman: Hamish Rutherford, out for 42, in New Zealand’s second innings.

Of Swann’s 212 wickets before this Test, 47 per cent have been southpaws, leading to his fiercest critics labelling him something of a one-trick pony.

Despite Swann’s heroics it was Jimmy Anderson who helped wrap proceedings up with heavy cloud circulating overhead.

Anderson’s sole wicket of the innings – when tail ender Trent Boult nicked behind – moved him level with Yorkshire great Fred Truman on 307 wickets.

The Burnley-born bowler has a disastrous record in Leeds, even though the conditions are traditionally favourable for seam. And this match was no different, with Anderson collecting just two wickets – both lower-order batsmen.

The day started when Stuart Broad took a smart return catch to oust Mc Cullum, for one, to get England on their way.

Tim Southee, once again, proved a thorn in England’s side hitting 38 off 41 balls to lift his side past 200.

Yet, Swann was on hand to have the 24-year-old all-rounder caught by Jonathan Trott at slip with a ball that spun less prodigiously than most of his offerings in the match.

Then Swann put England within touching distance of victory when Doug Bracewell pushed forward – with hard hands – and was caught at silly-point after a long rain break.

New Zealand harboured hopes of rain of ensuring a fortuitous draw but Anderson had other ideas after Cook brought on the Lancashire quick, in place of Swann.

Anderson induced an edge from Boult after he wafted at a ball outside the off-stump and Matt Prior gleefully took the catch.

England will be delighted at how they have fought back against Kiwis after a disappointing stalemate in New Zealand, where they failed to adjust to the conditions before them against a side ranked eighth in the world.

A three-match one-day international series lies ahead, as well as the Champions Trophy, for which England have a strong chance of winning.

But after a dominant series victory against the Kiwis – in which the vast majority of the side have chipped in with notable performances – England can look forward to Australia’s arrival with confidence.

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