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Swann balancing act delights Strauss

England captain Andrew Strauss hailed Graeme Swann after his pace attack endured a see-saw few days in the second Test win over Pakistan in Birmingham at Edgbaston.

cricket Updated: Aug 10, 2010 08:49 IST

England captain Andrew Strauss hailed Graeme Swann after his pace attack endured a see-saw few days in the second Test win over Pakistan in Birmingham at Edgbaston.

Off-spinner Swann didn't bowl for the second innings in a row as Pakistan were skittled out for just 72 -- their lowest total against England -- after Salman Butt, the tourists' captain, won the toss and batted in overcast conditions ideal for swing bowling.

James Anderson produced several near unplayable deliveries as he took four wickets for 20 runs.

But one of the criticisms levelled against Anderson in particular and England's seam attack in general is, that while they can appear extremely threatening when the ball is swinging, they are far less potent when it refuses to deviate in the air.

And that appeared to be borne out by a second innings where, under blue skies, Pakistan made 296 and Anderson took one for 62.

November sees England begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia -- where they have not won a Test series since 1986/87 -- and doubts remain over whether their attack can prosper in generally less swing friendly conditions and with the Kookaburra ball, not as responsive as the Dukes brand used in Britain.

However, Strauss pointed to Swann, who took a Test-best six for 65 in Pakistan's second innings as proof of England's balanced attack.

And he insisted England seamers Anderson, Stuart Broad and Finn still did mean something if the ball did not swing.

"We got a double whammy because the ball didn't swing and also the wicket died, so there was no real carry or menace with the ball and that's always going to be tough for the seamers," said Strauss, who saw his side to a nine-wicket win inside four days on Monday with an unbeaten 53 in 118 for one.

"So we looked to our spinner to do a job, and thankfully Swanny did, so in that sense I think we've got a well-balanced bowling line-up.

"If there's not much there (for the fast bowlers) Swanny can come in, if there is then they look pretty threatening."

Swann, a key figure for England in all formats during the last 18 months, was effectively reduced to the role of a spectator as Anderson took a Test match-best 11 for 71 in a crushing 354-run series opening win at Trent Bridge.

But Swann, with only his third delivery at Edgbaston, bowled Pakistan opener Imran Farhat after a sharply turning delivery pitched outside the left-hander's leg-stump and clipped the top of off stump.

"It's the best I have bowled, especially those first 10 or 15 overs," Swann said. "After not bowling for three innings you never know what sort of rhythm you are going to be in, whether you are going to land it or whether it is going to turn, but thankfully all three came into play."

Swann is now third in the ICC Test bowling rankings but said: "Stats don't tell the whole story. I don't think they did here either, as I was playing on a wicket that was turning square.

"I might bowl twice as well next week on a flat one and I will know I have bowled well but no-one else will if I have got none for a hundred."

Another plus point for England was the performance of No 3 Jonathan Trott who, on his Warwickshire home ground, made fifties in both innings and also finished on 53 not out

"The vast majority of the innings I've seen him play for England, he's had that calm unflustered look to him," said Strauss. "It's immensely reassuring."

This victory was England's sixth in a row and they will equal their best of eight straight Test wins if they sweep this series -- their last before the Ashes -- 4-0.

"Any time you win six in a row you are pretty happy with yourselves but we are still conscious there are plenty of areas where we need to improve so we are not getting too carried away," said Strauss.

"The first job is to make sure we win the series next week (at The Oval) and push on from there."