England endured a second successive day of injury worry, and eventual relief, as their Ashes warm-up match against Essex at Chelmsford refused to run smoothly.
Graeme Swann was sent for an X-ray which revealed no fracture to his bowling arm after he suffered a painful blow while batting against Tymal Mills.
Essex rested regular seamers Reece Topley and Graham Napier for this fixture – but in light of events, England would doubtless have preferred it if Mills’ name had instead been missing.
Against Mills, unheralded leg-spinner Tom Craddock (five for 69) et al, they were indebted to a stand of 187 between Tim Bresnan (105 not out) and Swann which rescued them from 212 for seven 413 for nine declared.
Then in Swann’s absence, Joe Root took a career-best four for 57 to put England in position to push for victory as Essex stumbled to 231 for nine despite Jaik Mickleburgh’s hard-working 90.
The first hour was notable for a 13-minute over from Mills, in which the promising left-arm quick hit both batsmen and left not just Swann needing treatment but also Bresnan.
One short ball thudded into Swann’s arm as he missed an attempted pull – and when he got off strike, Bresnan turned away as another rising delivery clattered into his helmet grille.
Either side of Mills’ hostility, the eighth-wicket pair were untroubled until Swann fell to Ravi Bopara off Craddock. Steven Finn then went lbw first ball.
Bresnan took his opportunity off Tom Westley – hitting the part-time off-spinner for successive fours and then, from the final ball of the over, a six over the farthest corner of the ground to reach his hundred. England promptly declared – and in 20 minutes before lunch, Finn (three for 56) compensated for his lack of runs when he had Westley caught behind.
Kevin Pietersen gave Hamish Rutherford a reprieve, failing to hold a catch low to his left at mid-on off Graham Onions.It did not prove an especially costly miss, however, the New Zealand Test batsman adding only 15 more before mistiming an even easier catch off Bresnan to Pietersen at mid-off.
Root had to bowl most of Swann’s overs and struck in his first over. An off-break bit and somehow looped so slowly out into the off-side, from an upper-edge on an attempted cut by Owais Shah, that wicketkeeper Matt Prior was able to run round to comfortably take the catch.
Opener Mickleburgh was unflustered on his way to a compact 85-ball 50, and reached tea in company with Bopara.
Bopara and Mickleburgh fell before Mark Pettini was bowled through the gate as Onions took the fielders out of the equation, and Root did likewise for his third wicket when he took a smart return catch to see off Ben Foakes.