• Essex v England, Chelmsford, 2nd day

Swann sent for X-ray after blow to arm

The Report by George Dobell in Chelmsford
July 1, 2013
Essex 231 for 9 (Mickleburgh 90, Root 4-57) trail England 413 for 9 dec (Bresnan 105*, Swann 94) by 182 runs

An injury concern to Graeme Swann overshadowed the second day of England's pre-Ashes warm-up match against Essex at Chelmsford. Swann was sent for an X-ray after being hit on his right forearm while batting but England confirmed that he had not suffered a fracture and would receive treatment for bruising.

Graeme Swann is now an Ashes injury concern once again © Getty Images

Swann was obliged to go hospital after he sustained the blow during a distinctly hostile spell from 20-year-old fast bowler Tymal Mills. Attempting to pull a delivery that was just back of a length, the ball was on Swann a little quicker than he had anticipated and struck him just above the wrist. A large bruise was visible within seconds but Swann continued to bat for about another 40 minutes.

While Swann later returned to the ground, he did not take the field and, just nine days before the first Investec Ashes Test, must be considered a doubt. He has not played first-class cricket since the Leeds Test against New Zealand at the end of May and missed Champions Trophy matches due to back and calf injuries.

Tim Bresnan, too, required treatment after a bouncer from Mills struck him on the visor. Mills, arguably as quick as anyone in England, troubled both batsmen but, with 30 first-class wickets in his career to date, has yet to find a way to translate his pace into tangible rewards. He has a great deal going for him, however, and can only have impressed the England management with this performance.

Despite the blows, Bresnan provided a timely reminder of his all-round credentials with the fourth first-class century of his career and Swann made his highest first-class score since 2007.

Bresnan, who had not scored a hundred since August 2007, helped Swann add 187 runs for England's eighth wicket and demonstrated the concentration and shot selection that his top-order colleagues had been lacking the previous day. He brought up his chanceless and increasingly dominant century with a pull for six and England declared immediately after.

Swann, caught at mid-on as he tried to clear the infield, fell six runs short of what would have be his first first-class century since 2002. This was his highest first-class score since he made 97 six years ago, also against Essex at Chelmsford.

He and Bresnan have good records at Chelmsford. Swann played a part in the highest eighth-wicket stand against Essex at Chelmsford - a partnership of 212 in 2007 - while Bresnan scored one of his three previous centuries here, a career-best innings of 126 not out for England Lions against the Indians.

It was, in a strange way, an encouraging session for Fawad Ahmed, too. While the legspinner is currently in Australia, it will have been noted that England lost five wickets in their first innings to a legspinner who had not, until this game, taken a wicket all season.

Tom Craddock, belatedly called into the attack on the second day, soon ended Swann's innings thanks to a juggling catch by Ravi Bopara, before Steven Finn, beaten by a legbreak, was adjudged leg-before to the next delivery. Craddock therefore collected his second five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.

Finn soon had a measure of revenge when, in the third over of Essex's reply, he persuaded Tom Westley to prod at one outside off stump and edge a catch to Matt Prior.

But England's bowlers were made to work hard for their wickets on a slow pitch and due to some defiant batting and flawed fielding.

England put down two chances - both off the deserving Graham Onions - with Kevin Pietersen at mid-on missing a relatively simple chance offered by Hamish Rutherford on 10 and Matt Prior dropping Ravi Bopara on 7. The delivery to Bopara, angling in and leaving the batsman sharply, deserved a wicket.

While Rutherford eventually drove to mid-off and Owais Shah edged Root's third ball - the attempted cut stroke appeared to come off the back of his bat and loop to the keeper - Jaik Mickleburgh compiled a polished half-century. Mickleburgh has a career average of just 25.99 and, before this game, had managed only 217 runs in 11 first-class innings this season but looked compact and patient in scoring more than any of England's top seven managed in this game.

Indeed, with Mills bowling some way quicker than Finn, Craddock turning some deliveries sharply and Mickleburgh appearing composed and defiant, it has sometimes been hard to tell which is the mid-table Division Two side and which is the Test team tipped to win the Ashes.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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