x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Swann defends bowling decision

The England spinner defends his side's decision to bowl first despite seeing South Africa recover to make 262 for four on the first day of the first Test.

CENTURION // England spinner Graeme Swann defended his side's decision to bowl first yesterday despite seeing South Africa recover from 93 for three to make 262 for four on the first day of the first Test. Jacques Kallis scored a brilliant 112 not out after Andrew Strauss had asked the Proteas to bat first on a green-looking pitch. "Having seen the wicket yesterday and this morning, we were well within our rights to bowl first," said Swann who took two for 61 in scorching conditions. "The statistics show that bowling first on this ground can be very lucrative.

"Had a couple of the low balls early on, especially from Graham Onions, cannoned into the stumps we would be sitting here in a different situation, maybe even bowling them out. "As the last session went on it we lost the initiative a bit but, at the end of the day, we're fairly happy they have not got away from us." Ashwell Prince, who made a battling 45 before falling victim to Swann, admitted that his captain, Graeme Smith, would have taken a different decision if he won the toss.

"We knew that there would be a bit of moisture about but there was more a green tinge than usual at Centurion," he said. "Quite a few of the guys still thought it was good enough to bat first. We can understand why England bowled as there was more grass than they have seen at Centurion before. We know the conditions better so felt comfortable to bat." The new Umpire Decision Referral System again caused controversy. Each team have two daily challenges and England used their final referral when AB de Villiers appeared to under edge a delivery from Swann to wicketkeeper Matt Prior. "We all knew the caught behind was out but the system said it wasn't," said Swann.