Turn for the worse
England made a mistake by omitting spinner Graeme Swann at Headingley, says Shane Warne.
Last Updated: 03/08/12 7:28pm
Shane Warne believes England will be ruing leaving spinner Graeme Swann out of their line-up for the second Test with South Africa.
Nottinghamshire star Swann has been troubled by an elbow injury of late and failed to snare a wicket in the opening Test with the Proteas at The Oval last month.
But legendary twirler Warne was still surprised that the 33-year-old was replaced by Middlesex quick Steven Finn at Headingley, a move that gave England an all-seam bowling attack.
And the Australian feels the spinner's inclusion could have helped the hosts dismiss South Africa for less than the 419 that they totalled in their first innings.
"I was amongst the group saying: 'How can you leave out Swann?'", Warne told Sky Sports. "You don't just pick a side for the first innings, plus the spinner gives you great variation.
"Swann has become the number one spin bowler in the world because of the way he has bowled in all conditions; flat wickets, turning wickets. He finds a way to get people out."
"I suppose England looked at the history of this ground and the way South Africa played Swann at The Oval, but I reckon Swann would have thought: 'I want another crack at these guys'.
"I'm sure he would have been better in this game, which was emphasised by the fact we saw, part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen turn [a ball].
"I think England got a bit confused by the way South Africa played in the first Test and thought: 'What do we do?', rather than go: 'We've got to number one in the world with three fast bowlers and a spinner.' They changed and they now find themselves behind in the game.
"If I was going to leave someone out it would have been Stuart Broad, not that he would have particularly deserved that either, but Swann would have come in handy on the first day as he would have brought a nice change of pace from the seamers."
Sky Sports pundit Mike Atherton, meanwhile, thinks England may have got bogged down in statistics when selecting their side instead of looking at the merits of the pitch.
"I believe there is a place for number crunching and it has helped England on their journey to number one," said the former England skipper.
"Their statistics department in Loughborough is used effectively and it gives them an edge, but there is a danger sometimes with statistics that they become self-perpetuating.
"If you are forever saying that spinners don't get wickets at Headingley, you then leave out your spinner and by definition the spinner can't get wickets.
"Swann has not taken a Test wicket at Headingley and he has taken 10 first-class wickets here at 39, plus England spinners haven't done well on the ground.
"On that basis you can see an argument for it, but looking at the pitch on day one, it didn't have that much green grass on it and it didn't look the right decision [to omit Swann].
"A variety of reasons - statistics, the fact they wanted Finn in, had a debutant in James Taylor batting at six so didn't want to weaken the batting by leaving out Tim Bresnan - combined and they made an illogical decision."
England began their response to South Africa's tally of 419 in composed style, reaching 48-0 before rain and bad light brought a premature end to day two.