Swann spins England to brink of victory
Graeme Swann bowled England to the brink of victory against New Zealand in the second and final Test at Headingley on Monday.
The off-spinner took four for 61 in 21.4 unchanged overs, extending his match haul to eight wickets, before bad light ended the fourth day with New Zealand 154 for six.
That left the Black Caps still needing a further 310 runs to reach their victory target of 468.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was nought not out and Tim Southee four not out.
The most any side has ever made in the fourth innings to win a Test is West Indies’ 418 for seven against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03.
And the corresponding record for New Zealand is the 325 for four they posted against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1993/94.
It seemed only forecast rain on Tuesday’s final day could now deny England victory and a 2-0 series win.
In that case, they might rue both captain Alastair Cook’s decision not to enforce the follow-on on Sunday and indeed bat on after lunch on Monday in a match where the whole of Friday’s first day was washed out without a ball bowled.
Jonathan Trott, who pressed on to 76 on Monday after taking 69 balls Sunday to make 11 not out, defended England’s approach.
“We’ve had a great day with bat and ball and we’re in a really strong position,” he told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“If we’d taken the weather into consideration we might have made them follow on,” the South Africa-born batsman added.
“We’re 1-0 up in the series so there’s no need to chase the game, but we want to win every Test we play.
“You look at time and runs and you want to get it spot on, and I think we’ve done that.”
For New Zealand, only former captain Ross Taylor, with a stylish 70, offered much in the way of significant resistance Monday before he was yorked by Swann to leave New Zealand 154 for six.
“England put the ball in the right areas and asked us questions, but we should be in a lot better position than we are at the moment,” Taylor said.
“It’s another day tomorrow and we’ll have to see what the weather gods have in store for us, but hopefully Brendon and Timmy can bat out time as we’ll see what will happen.”
In their first innings, New Zealand collapsed to 174 all out -- although this was an improvement on the 68 they managed in the second innings of their 170-run first Test defeat at Lord’s.
Stuart Broad, who took a Test-best seven for 44 at Lord’s, removed Peter Fulton for five on Monday after he fended a rising delivery to Ian Bell in the gully.
Swann, who’d taken four wickets in New Zealand’s first innings, needed just nine balls to strike again Monday when Kane Williamson was lbw on review.
Swann then grabbed his second wicket in three overs when left-handed opener Hamish Rutherford was caught off bat and pad by Joe Root at short leg for 42.
That left New Zealand 65 for three and in danger of suffering yet another top-order slump.
Taylor, however, counter-attacked by cover-driving Swann for four and came through reviews on 47 and 60, while receiving solid support from Dean Brownlie in a fourth-wicket stand of 79.
Brownlie was eventually dismissed for 25 when, swaying away from a Steven Finn bouncer, he gloved to Bell before Martin Guptill (three) edged Swann to Trott at slip.
Then 153 for five became 154 for six when Taylor, who batted for more than two-and-a-half hours, fell to Swann.
Earlier, Cook scored 130, further extending his England record for Test centuries to 25, before declaring the hosts’ second innings on 287 for five.
Cook, 88 not out overnight, was out when he was caught at mid-off off the bowling of part-time spinner Williamson.