Laker haul overtaken as Swann takes spin record

0
Have your say

Graeme Swann could be forgiven his mixed feelings after going past the great Jim Laker as England’s most prolific off-spinner, on a day when India put an early stamp on the Test series.

Swann’s second wicket of four on day one of the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium took him past Laker to a career tally of 194.

But his were the only successes in an otherwise chastening experience for England as the punishing strokeplay of Virender Sehwag (117) and then the more sedate Cheteshwar Pujara (98no) took the hosts to 323-4 at stumps.

It was Sehwag’s wicket which put him out on his own as an England off-spinner – an achievement he will treasure, having grown up like so many with an interest in cricket hearing names like Laker’s uttered always in reverential terms.

“It is a proud moment,” said the 33-year-old.

“I’m always saying I’m not one for stats. But when people told me I was near to Jim Laker, I was genuinely excited.

“When you’re growing up, famous names from the game, you never even dream of emulating them – let alone going past their record.

“So I’m very honoured to go past him today.”

He was delighted too to then add the scalp of Sachin Tendulkar as his next wicket.

Asked if there is a special satisfaction to get Tendulkar out, Swann said: “There is.

“Just the noise that erupted in the ground when he walked out to bat ... he hadn’t even left the changing room, and you know who’s coming in.

“It’s always nice to get him, and get him early as well – because he’s the greatest player still playing the game.”

Those were the highlights for Swann and England then, amid plenty of vain ball-chasing and boundaries – courtesy mostly of Sehwag. “From the first few overs, we realised we were in for the long haul over here,” he said.

“The way ‘Viru’ batted from the off, he took the game away from us in that first couple of hours. So it was important to pull it back.

“That first session was very tough, and we had a guy in exceptional form. They undoubtedly won that session. But I think we won the second, and the third was fairly even.”

It could have been worse for the tourists, and at one point looked as if it surely would be.

“Having lost the toss on that pitch, we’d obviously have liked five or six wickets – but we’ll take four,” added Swann.