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On the field he is a combative, off-spinning allrounder. Away from it, he is a motormouth comedian, poking fun at his team-mates and sparking the dressing-room spirit that helped inspire England to Ashes victory. Emma John caught up with Graeme Swann in the Observer.
Swann, England's first-choice spinner, offers far more to the team than the best banter on the bus. While his contributions to this summer's series – 14 wickets and 249 runs – may not sound the stuff of legend, his performances came at crucial times; when the Australian batsmen were threatening to take a game away from England, his appearance in the attack, skipping through his delivery stride with his wraparound sunglasses clinging to his head like Robocop, was a comforting sight. Swann's irrepressible batting was also vital in a series where the lower order did much of the best work on both sides; and he took eight wickets in the deciding Test at the Oval, including the final one to win the Ashes. Forget 2005, says Swann, for him, this was the best Ashes series ever. "It still gives me goosebumps..."