Cricket: Swann scare gives England warning
IT took only one practice session for England to be reminded of the very thin margins that could determine the outcome of the Ashes series, with Graeme Swann forced to miss part of training after being struck on his right thumb in the nets in Perth.
Swann needed ice treatment and heavy strapping, but was not sent for an X-ray and had sufficient movement in the digit to be able to declare himself fit via a tweet, which confirmed that his humour, like the bone, was unbroken.
His importance to the side explains the palpable sense of relief. After Andrew Strauss, for his leadership, Swann is the player the management would least like to lose. Even if conditions in Brisbane for the first Test help seam and swing as much as has been suggested, Swann's considerable influence will be delayed only slightly.
"He is fine, it is only a bit of precautionary strapping," Stuart Broad, his team-mate, said. "I do not think he is in any trouble at all.
"He just got a bit of a blow, which you are used to in nets."
Tim Bresnan was responsible for the rising ball that did the damage and Australia will remember how Swann struggled on the back foot in England last year. Peter Siddle gave him a peppering in Cardiff and Swann did not receive too much to drive in the rest of the series. He should not expect much more this time
In Monty Panesar, England have a useful potential replacement, albeit one who has not kicked on from his early successes.
Therein lies an unfortunate blessing; had Panesar's career risen as expected Swann would never have received the opportunities he has taken to become the frontline spin bowler.