England news March 28, 2013

Swann confident of Ashes return

Jon Culley

Only two weeks after undergoing surgery for the second time on his troublesome right elbow, Graeme Swann is not only confident of being fit for his third Ashes series later this summer but has also revealed a vague ambition to rival a fellow England offspinner, John Emburey, for career longevity.

Indeed, Swann, who turned 34 four days ago, is so optimistic about making a full recovery that he believes he could be ready to play in the opening Test against New Zealand on May 16. Nottinghamshire's four-day match against Durham on April 29 has even been pencilled in for what would be a startlingly quick competitive comeback.

Swann went ahead of Jim Laker as England's most prolific Test offspinner during the triumphant England series in India that preceded the New Zealand tour. He now has 212 Test wickets yet claims his hunger for more is undiminished.

"The hunger's still strong to play Test cricket," he said "I love the game, so I think I'll play for as long as the body can stand it. Whether that will be for 12 Test matches or 112 we will have to wait and see - but Embers played until he was 41, didn't he? So there is hope for me yet."

Swann is currently following a day-and-night programme of mechanically-induced extension exercises designed to accelerate his recovery time.

"I'm banished to our attic bedroom right now because I have to get up every two hours to attach myself to a machine for 50 minutes," Swann said. "It was agony for the first week - it brings a tear to your eye. But that's stopped happening now and the elbow feels great -- so it's definitely going in the right direction.

"I'll be badgering the physios and coaches here at Notts to let me bowl as soon as possible but they're the ones with qualifications to tell me when and where I can.

"I'd hope to be bowling competitively by the end of April. I don't know whether that's optimistic or not but that's how my mind works. I want to be back as soon as I can because I'm bored stupid already. It was okay while the Tests in New Zealand were on because I could watch that, but now it's finished it's very tedious.

"It's important though because the machine keeps the range of movement in your arm and it aids your rehabilitation and it's supposed to halve the time you get back bowling."

If his return to action with Nottinghamshire results in no setback, Swann would be in contention for the opening Test against New Zealand at Lord's, having missed England's uncomfortable 0-0 Test series draw against the same opponents on their own pitches.

It would be great news for England, who would be uneasy about entering as Ashes series with Monty Panesar as their frontline spinner, particularly given the high number of left-hand batsmen in the Australian line-up. Panesar was in buoyant form as he and Swann dismantled India on turning surfaces before Christmas, but as the lone spinner on unresponsive surfaces in New Zealand he occasionally looked ill at ease.

Doubts were expressed over Swann's future in international cricket after his elbow injury resurfaced - slightly more than three years after his first operation under the skilled hands of surgeon Dr Shawn O'Driscoll in Minnesota.

Yet he says he trusts O'Driscoll's prognosis of a full recovery and the thought has never seriously crossed his mind that the injury might spell the end of his England career after 50 Tests.

"The surgeon assured me it was a straightforward operation compared with my first one," he said. "That one was far more serious, yet it allowed me to go for three-and-a-half years bowling relatively pain free. It was a lot more straightforward this time, basically just correcting little things that have gone wrong since.

"Because of my elbow, different parts of my body start taking over and aching and that was one of the signs in New Zealand that something was wrong. All of a sudden I was getting a sore back and shoulder and all sorts of things, all down to the fact that the elbow wasn't working. Now it's cleared out, all the other things should be all right.

"I think I could bowl now but I'd probably put myself back to square one. So the next couple of weeks are solely about fitness and getting my base levels back up to where they should be, and then I'll start bowling again."

Swann recognises that he is not the patient sort and any delay in his rehabilitation will leave him pacing the floor in frustration.

"I think it's going to kill me if I sit down and watch so much cricket at the start of the summer without being an active part of it so I'll certainly be trying to be back fit and playing as much cricket as I can. I'd like to get a couple of games in for Notts before any England cricket starts so that's what I'll be aiming for.

"If I start back and there's any pain whatsoever I'm sure I'll want to play it fairly safe. But I'm not a conservative bloke by nature."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on April 2, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    Eng needs fully fit KP and Swanny. i really want to see onion in place of broad. Broad is very much inconsistent. whenever his position is under scrutiny he hits hard.

  • Roo on April 2, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    Been surprised that Swann hadn't had the surgery a year ago (though he was very reluctant) as quite often it can solve complications like he has had to his shoulder, neck, back... Also the 2nd operation was minor in comparison to his 1st operation... Prognosis is good, so if he looks after himself he should be good for a number of years to come... He should come back well & be on track for a full summer - so be interested on how Bresnan is recovering from his surgery & if he returns with some improvements to his game...

  • Paul on April 1, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    No doubt @Front-Foot-Lunge, the ashes will decided by an off spinner that averages over 35 against Australia.

  • j on March 31, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Australia would love a Swann in their team. But they don't have a single spinner in the entire country of Aus, instead making do with dart bowlers and seamers. The contrast ahead of a historic B2B Ashes year couldn't be starker. Keep up the good work Swanny.

  • John on March 30, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    If Swann isn't ready to play, England should certainly go with Tredwell rather than Monty. Aus has a bunch of left-handed batsmen and an off-spinner will be much more effective bowling against them.

    Like JG2704, I'd always play two spinners including Monty in the subcontinent (and why he wasn't in the ODI series I still have no idea), but for tests in England I'd take Swann every time and against Australia Monty would be well down my list.

  • John on March 30, 2013, 23:24 GMT

    @ Vnott - I guess law of averages only applies to Cook and not to Clarke.

  • david on March 30, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    mitty2. i was one who thought the aus v india would end 2 - 2. i have no problem thinking that the eng v aus will end, eng winning all tests in eng. it could be 2 - 1 either way. i cannot see the aussies batting worse than they did in ind or for that matter eng playing worse than they did in nz. so bring it on and the best team wins

  • Prashant on March 29, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    gr8 news..swann is my favourite spinner who takes wickets in all kind of pitches!!

  • venkataramana rao on March 29, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    With a line up like Cook, Compton, Trott, KP, Bell, Root and Prior... clearly England have the stronger batting side. However if the recent series in NZ is any indication, the law of averages has finally caught up with Cook. If Cook does not fire, it could be very even. Australia have a superb bowling attack not withstanding the results in the Indian tour. Pattinson, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Starc, Johnson, Lyon can get 20 wickets in any of the tests in the ashes. However Aussies have a problem in batting for sure. Clarke will win a few battles. Watson if he turns up may win some. Warner and Hughes will fire a few times. There is serious lack of depth. If they cant find 1 or 2 batting pieces in the jigzaw quickly - the ashes will get decided very quickly

  • Michael on March 29, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    His attacking edge was missed in NZ for sure, He is obviously optimistic about his future which is great news and as England's most attacking spinner since Laker he will be needed for a while to come. Young spinners should take note that giving the ball a rip is the first requirement of a slow bowler.

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