Spinning wars

“Finger-spinning is the hardest job in cricket, especially Test cricket, and I won’t hear another word on the subject,” insisted Graeme Swann. “So that’s why I was really pulling for Paul Harris while he was bowling against us. I wanted him to do well, it’s great to see finger spinners doing well in Test cricket.”

Unfortunately for Harris, one of Swann’s ‘pulls’ was against him, rather than for him, and landed 15 metres beyond the boundary rope on the western grass banks of Supersport Park.

“Yes, if I say so myself, that one came out of the middle of the bat! Very sweet. But Harry still got his five wickets and I was the first to congratulate him,” said Swann.

This alleged ‘chummy’ relationship between the two spinners wasn’t much in evidence when Harris was bowling to Swann during his mighty innings of 85 from 81 balls during a brilliant rearguard partnership with James Anderson which produced a 9th wicket partnership of 106. Words exchanged between the two hardly seemed courteous. But only from 100 metres away.

“I was telling him to have a go, encouraging him to play some shots,” Harris admitted with a grin just as mischievous that any of Swann’s.

“Yeh, he was telling me to play the slog-sweep to see if I could hit him into the crowd on the grass bank. But I kept telling him that it wasn’t my shot, I didn’t play that shot. But he kept on nagging so eventually I decided to give it a go – and it did land on the bank!”

“He’s a good cricketer, with bat and ball, but I was hoping – if he did play the shot – it would go wrong, not travel 75 metres! We might call each other names and play to the death on the field, but that doesn’t mean to say we can’t appreciate each other’s company afterwards!”

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