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England in very strong position thanks to Swann, says Hussain

Trott Confident

Graeme Swann has spun England to the brink of a 2-0 series victory over New Zealand providing the weather plays ball on day five at Headingley, says Nasser Hussain.

Swann claimed second innings figures of 4-61 as the tourists, set a victory target of 468 after England declared their innings closed on 287-5, faltered to 158-6 before stumps.

The off-spinner bowled top run-scorer Ross Taylor (70) shortly before the close to boost England's chances of wrapping up a second successive victory - weather permitting.

"Swann has done a lot of hard work since he had that operation on his elbow and it's nice to see that fizz and that zip back in his action."

Nasser Hussain

"I have no idea about the weather tomorrow," said former England skipper Hussain. "All I know is that the wicket of Ross Taylor was absolutely vital.

"If it does rain a little bit tomorrow, then England would have been a bit fidgety with Taylor and Brendon McCullum - two very experienced players - at the crease.

"But now they've got an end to bowl at so even with a little bit of weather around, I think England will fancy their chances - particularly with Tim Southee, who doesn't really know how to block the spinner, in."


Swann returned to England's Test line-up earlier this month after recovering from an elbow operation that forced him to miss the tour of New Zealand.

The Nottinghamshire slow bowler missed out on the wickets as the home side won by a convincing 170 runs at Lord's, but bagged 4-42 as New Zealand were bowled out for just 174 in their first innings at Headingley.

"In the first innings, the New Zealand boys just stood there like startled rabbits and Swann could just aim into those holes in the pitch," said Hussain.

"What New Zealand did better today was they made Swann change his length a little bit but he has still ended up with four wickets.

"Taylor used the depth in the crease against Swann and got fully forward, making Swann constantly try to adjust his line, length and pace and find something different.

"Swann has done a lot of hard work since he had that operation on his elbow and it's nice to see that fizz and that zip back in his action.

"England will be quite pleased that it hasn't been the Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad show and that they've had to go to Swann and Finn, who are either a little bit short of form or match practice, and they've both delivered the goods.

"So England are looking in a very, very strong position for what lies ahead. There are one or two issues in the batting but they are catching well, Cook is leading brilliantly from the front; there are a lot of good things coming out of this England side."


Captain Alastair Cook had earlier registered the 25th Test century of his career - striking 18 fours in his 190-ball 130 - before opting to declare with a huge lead of 468.

Hussain says the skipper, who already holds the record for the number of Test tons scored by an Englishman, has every chance of challenging the target set by India's Sachin Tendulkar, who currently has 51 Test tons to his name.

"At the same age he is better than Tendulkar - whoever would have thought that we'd say that of an English batsman?" said Hussain.

"He looks like he's very hungry. He doesn't look like someone who is going to disappear and retire from the game - he is going to be around for a long while.

"His driving was phenomenal in this game. They bowled very well at him all series and I don't think they bowled particularly badly at him in this innings. It's just that Alastair Cook finds a way of getting things done."

On Cook's decision to delay the declaration, Hussain added: "England are a better side so if they had enforced the follow-on, England would have won. If they don't, they will probably win - if it rains all day tomorrow.

"As a side you've always got to be looking to improve a little bit and I think that England, who are playing seven batsmen, could have been a little more fluent in setting up that declaration but the odds are so much in their favour because they are the better side.

"England are looking at the big picture. They've worked hard for five Test matches to get to this situation. They did all of that work to get the draw in Auckland and they are not going to hand it back to New Zealand.

"England are 1-0 up - they are saying to New Zealand 'if you want to beat us, then you do something special because we are going to play our way. If the weather comes in, we're 1-0 up; if the weather doesn't come in, we're 2-0 up."