England's Bowlers Prosper Despite Swann Absence
England 413-9d (Bresnan 105no) v
Essex 231-9 (Mickleburgh 90, Root 4-57)
LV= Challenge Match, Chelmsford, day two
Day One Report
A potential injury to Graeme Swann almost proved to be the most significant moment on the second day of England’s warm-up match against Essex. However, fortunately for them and perhaps unfortunately for Australia’s batsmen, the painful blow that he was dealt on the right forearm by Tymal Mills resulted in nothing more serious than bruising.
Mills struck both Swann and Tim Bresnan - on the helmet - during a hostile spell of pace bowling in the morning but that didn’t prevent them from extending their partnership to 187 to set up a day that England comfortably had the better of.
Essex closed on 231 for nine in reply to their 413 for nine declared as only Jaik Mickleburgh showed the necessary application before being deprived of a century by Joe Root.
Root proved himself to be a more than able stand-in for Swann, who spent the rest of the day off the field following his dismissal for 94. He ended with four wickets in an innings for the first time in his first-class career and made the most of the sunny skies, dry pitch and tentative Essex batting line-up.
His first wicket was that of Owais Shah, who edged a cut shot through to Matt Prior, while those of Mickleburgh, Ben Foakes and Sajid Mahmood followed as he got through 20 overs - the most of any bowler.
The wicket of Mickleburgh was particularly important. The opener looked to be nearing his first century of a poor season but was deprived when on 90 thanks to a catch by Ian Bell.
The remainder of the Essex batting line-up were relatively poor in comparison, with Mark Pettini’s 31 the next best contribution as England struck regularly. England dropped both Hamish Rutherford and Ravi Bopara off the luckless Graham Onions, but neither spill proved too costly. Rutheford made 27 before giving a wicket to Tim Bresnan, while Bopara did his claims of an England Test recall more harm than good by being caught behind off Steven Finn for 12.
Essex had earlier allowed England’s first innings to balloon alarmingly from its position of 212 for seven yesterday as Swann and Bresnan showed markedly more application than their top-order colleagues had on day one. The belated introduction of leg-spinner Tom Craddock, though, brought almost immediate reward as he deprived Swann of a what would have been his first century since 2002 and had Steven Finn leg-before to the very next ball. That gave Craddock a richly deserved second five-wicket haul of his fledgling career as he finished with career-best figures of five for 69.
Bresnan wasn’t to be denied his century, however, and reached three figures with a six, at which point England declared. The century was Bresnan’s fourth in first-class cricket and first since 2007.
All in all, it was a good day for England following their failings with the bat on Sunday as their bowlers were given a good work out by Mickleburgh and a couple of the other Essex batsmen before being rewarded for their efforts with an excellent close of play position. On a slow pitch, and without Graeme Swann to shoulder the burden, their seamers all bowled well, with Finn, in particular, enhancing his claims of a first Test spot with an incisive spell of reverse swing bowling - normally the speciality of his main rival Bresnan - in the afternoon.
© Cricket World 2013