Swann omission a mistake - Illingworth

PA Sport
Ray Illingworth has criticised England's decision to drop Graeme Swann for the second Test
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Ray Illingworth has criticised England's decision to drop Graeme Swann for the second Test

England will regret dropping Graeme Swann for the second Investec Test against South Africa, according to former coach Ray Illingworth.

Andy Flower's side went into the Headingley clash with an all-seam attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn, with the latter recalled at Swann's expense. They opted to bowl first on Thursday morning but were frustrated by Proteas openers Alviro Petersen and Graeme Smith, the former making a Test-best 182.

And while Illingworth understands England's thought process on his seam-friendly former home ground, he believes the decision arrived at was the wrong one. "I would never go in without a spinner," he told the Daily Star Sunday. "I can see why they did it and why they bowled first because they have to win the match to stay in with a chance of winning the series."

He added: "And it does tend to do a bit on the first morning at Headingley - but you have to make that session count and take four or five wickets before lunch.

"If you don't take those wickets you have to say then that you have made a mistake leaving out the spinner and bowling first and I think when this match is over they will look back on that as the wrong decision.

"Even if the pitch doesn't turn, some batsmen just don't play slow bowling very well. Swann didn't bowl particularly badly at the Oval so he was unlucky to be left out.

"I am sure Swann won't take it personally and will realise the team tried to do something positive to win the game. I don't think it will affect him really."

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