ST JOHN'S, ANTIGUA // The England spinner Graeme Swann took full advantage of his unexpected recall with a potentially match-winning five-wicket performance on Tuesday. Omitted from the starting line-up for last week's postponed second Test, Swann's return of 5-57 was instrumental in helping England dismiss West Indies for 285 as the tourists forged a 312-run lead with nine second innings wickets remaining.
The Nottinghamshire off-spinner only won back his place when the third Test was hastily rearranged for a Sunday start at the Recreation Ground after outfield problems at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium forced organisers to change the tour schedule. "I found out I was playing on the morning of the game, I was warned the night before that I had a good chance of playing and then I was given the nod," Swann said.
"When you are on tour you have the same amount of preparation as everyone else so you're all ready to go." Swann said his diligence in practice, particularly when bowling to England's captain Andrew Strauss, had probably helped him get in the side. "In the nets I've always tried to bowl as well as I can at the captain and luckily for me our captain is a left-hander and West Indies are full of them," he said.
"I suppose that played into my hands a little. I didn't do anything different to what I'd been doing the whole trip." England chose the left-armer Monty Panesar for the first Test defeat in Kingston after Swann ended the pre-Test tour game against West Indies A with figures of 0-160 from 41 overs. Prior to Tuesday's play, attention had focused on the ridge in the wicket caused by the football pitch halfway line markings, which many expected would give a boost to the quick bowlers.
"Maybe that played into my hands," Swann admitted. "Everyone was expecting the halfway line to play havoc with the game, but I think only one ball has done anything stupid... or at least got a wicket. Maybe people have been a little preoccupied with that". Strauss, a first innings century-maker, was out for 14 edging Fidel Edwards to second slip as the tourists closed on 33-1. The West Indies lead the series 1-0.