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  • Eng v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 5th day

Swann takes 10 as England win

The report by George Dobell
May 28, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
England 354 (Root 104, Bairstow 64, Boult 5-57) and 287 for 5 dec (Cook 130, Trott 76) beat New Zealand 174 (Swann 4-42) and 220 (Swann 6-90) by 247 runs Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Rain held up play on day five but England managed to take the four wickets they need for victory © Getty Images
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Graeme Swann helped himself to a 10-wicket haul as England beat the weather to take the four New Zealand wickets required to wrap up a two-nil series win.

James Anderson has not had the best time at Headlingley, but he returned to prise out the final man - which took him level with Fred Trueman on 307 Test wickets.

The players woke up on Tuesday morning to wet weather in Leeds and there were concerns that the rain would prevent England from completing the job.

Perhaps England betrayed some of their anxiety on the final morning. Andy Flower, the England coach, could be seen having an animated conversation with the groundsman minutes after the rain stopped. It would be unwise to try speculate in too much detail as to Flower's intentions, but it seems safe to assume he was making the point that, if the rain was only to relent for short periods, England needed play to resume as soon as possible. As tends to be the case, Flower got his way despite a counter-argument from his New Zealand counterpart Mike Hesson.

When play did start after a 45-minute hiatus, it did not take England long to remove the only remaining specialist batsman. For the fourth time in the series, Stuart Broad dismissed the New Zealand captain, this time clinging on to a sharp caught and bowled chance as Brendon McCullum mis-timed a drive off the bottom of the bat. It meant McCullum had scored only 31 runs in the series.

But the wicket came at a cost to England as Broad appeared to cut his knee diving for the catch - blood was visible through his trousers - and left the pitch for treatment shortly afterwards.

England might have had Tim Southee out shortly afterwards. On 26, he edged one from Swann that did not turn, but Jonathan Trott, at slip, could not hold on to the chance in his left hand. To rub salt in the wound, Southee slog-swept the next ball for six.

It was far from the only aggressive stroke he played. Despite a man waiting for the stroke on the midwicket boundary, Southee pulled Steven Finn's first ball for six and drove Broad for a thumping straight four. Doug Bracewell also pulled Finn for a six in an eighth-wicket stand of 56 in only 41 balls.

Swann made the second breakthrough with another delivery that slid on with the arm and again took the edge of Southee's bat. This time Trott clung on to another tricky chance by his left boot.

But just five more deliveries were possible before the rain - for a while spitting - grew harder and the umpires led the players from the pitch for an early lunch. After a long delay, play resumed at 3pm. Just eight balls later Bracewell was given out to an inside edge but it was overruled using DRS, with replays showing the ball had deflected off the pad, not the bat. But, in Swann's next over, he had the same batsman smartly caught by Ian Bell at silly point off bat and pad. It gave Swann a ten-wicket haul for the third time in Test cricket and his first in England.

Neil Wagner and Trent Boult resisted for another eight scoreless overs but the return of James Anderson brought immediate rewards. With his third delivery, he drew Boult into a push that took the outside edge and carried to Matt Prior. It gave Anderson his 307th Test wicket to take him level with Fred Trueman's tally. Now only Sir Ian Botham and Bob Willis have more than Anderson for England.

The results means England go into the Ashes with four wins in their last eight Tests and unbeaten in that period. But they can take more than victory from this game. The re-emergence of Finn as a bowler of pace and hostility and proof that Swann has rediscovered his best form following elbow surgery means England go into the Ashes with a balanced, settled attack capable of troubling most line-ups on most surfaces.

There are one or two issues with the batting - the survival of Nick Compton at the top of the order will remain a debating point - but, with Kevin Pietersen back in the nets and Joe Root emerging as a fine player, England can feel pretty well prepared for the Ashes.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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