Graeme Swann intends to put his feet up and catch up on sleep today after backing England’s top order to complete the long-haul task in front of them in the third Investec Ashes Test in Manchester.
England will resume the third day 475 runs in arrears of Australia’s mammoth first-innings total, with captain Alastair Cook (36 not out) and Jonathan Trott (two not out) at the crease.
Swann admits there are no other two batsmen he would prefer to step out onto a placid Emirates Old Trafford pitch today after Peter Siddle’s double strike late last night left England on the back foot.
Siddle removed Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Tim Bresnan in the final half-hour and it could have been worse with Cook, suffering with a bad back, narrowly avoiding being run out in the penultimate over.
Cook nonetheless remained to help his side to 52-2 and while there is plenty of ground yet to be made up – in a match in which avoiding defeat will retain the Ashes – Swann is certain England’s batsmen will do the required spade work today.
“I’m 100 per cent behind all our batters to be honest,” he said.
“The fact that Cookie is still there is great for us because he’s due a big score.
“I don’t really watch when he’s out in the middle to be honest. I intend to put my feet up and hopefully sleep for six hours.
“Trotty is a world-class player as well and we’ve got Kev (Kevin Pietersen) and Belly (Ian Bell) and Jonny Bairstow and the rest to come. We’re very happy with our line-up and the way to win this game is to go past the Australian total, get a bit of a lead and then see what happens on day four and five.”
Swann, who earlier took his 17th five-wicket haul in Australia’s 527-7 declared, did reveal that Cook was hampered by a back problem.
Despite the injury the left-hander negotiated the 30 overs England were left after Michael Clarke’s declaration – albeit after surviving a dropped chance against Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon when he was on 15.
“His back seemed to be troubling him a little bit there and so to get through two and a half hours with a sore back as well is great for us,” Swann said.
“He’ll have a good sleep and a dip in the pool tonight and he’ll be right as rain tomorrow to carry on.”
Bresnan’s dismissal again opened the debate over England’s use of a nightwatchman, although replays showed he did not hit a ball he chose not to review.
Umpire Marais Erasmus agreed with the Australian appeals and, curiously, so too did Bresnan after he attempted to pull at Siddle.
“Bres heard a noise so he obviously thought he’d hit it,” Swann said. “It just goes to show despite what some of you guys think about batsmen walking and not walking, sometimes they genuinely don’t know whether they’ve hit it or not.
“Poor old Bressie – he came off and he couldn’t believe the replay when he saw it. He’d heard a noise and presumed it was a bottom edge.”
Match report: Page 4.