Having been there and done that, Graeme Swann is now mentoring a group of young England spinners, who would feature in a ‘Shadow Tour’ of India next month with a couple of them in contention to make it to senior team for five-Test series, starting January 25. Off-spinner Swann claimed 20 wickets and along with Monty Panesar played pivotal role in handing India a shock 2-1 defeat in a four-Test series in 2012-13 for the Anthony de Mello Trophy, recording a rare feat in the history.
Before that series, England had won a Test series in 1984-85 and Swann was instrumental in a series win after 27 long years.
Swann is currently back in his role as a spin bowling consultant during an England Lions’ camp in the UAE, who too will be busy playing their counterparts India A simultaneously.
“A lot of them are just worried about what it’s like in Test cricket; do you have to bowl magic balls or do anything different? You actually don’t — the pressure of Test cricket is felt by the batsmen, just as much, if not more than the bowler,” Swann was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“I was exactly the same back in the day. I thought you had to be absolutely better than you’ve ever been every time you bowl in Test cricket. You actually don’t,” he said.
Swann, who is England’s seventh highest wicket-taker with 255 scalps in 60 Tests and overall their second best spinner, believes that sticking to ones’ talent should suffice for any bowler.
“You have to be yourself and be very consistent. That’s probably what I try to get over the most — they’ve all got the balls in their locker to take wickets in Test cricket already,” he added.
With humour being a big part of the 44-year-old Swann’s life, he says working with England players in any capacity keeps him motivated.
“Being able to get involved and hopefully do something for the good of the team and English cricket, that’s a different feeling altogether. It gets me out of bed with a skip in the morning rather than dragging myself out, moping after the dog in the park,” he added.
Swann’s career came to an abrupt end when he announced his retirement troubled by an elbow injury, midway during England’s 5-0 annihilation at the hands of Australia in Ashes 2013-14 Down Under.
But the offie, who also played 79 ODIs and 39 T20Is for England including an appearance in the 2011 World Cup, said that there is no room for remorse.
“You keep thinking — could I have waited? Could I have seen if my elbow got better? And then I’d see England playing again and get massive pangs of jealousy,” he said.
“I’ll be honest, I still get it now. I think it’ll help when Jimmy Anderson breaks a hip or something by the time he goes. But seeing your mate still doing it and being on the outside, it is hard. It’s not enjoyable.” “I’d love to be a grey-haired, wily old spinner playing for England like him. I don’t think I could have kept my fitness up, to be fair. That’s life. I was dealt an amazing hand for five years, if I bemoan the end of it, it’ll take away from how amazing those five years were,” Swann added.
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