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Swann confident of Ashes return

Jon Culley

March 28, 2013

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Swann has been ruled out of the New Zealand tour, New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Dunedin, 1st day, March 6, 2013
Graeme Swann left England's New Zealand tour in troubled mood, but two weeks after a second elbow operation his optimism is fast returning © PA Photos

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."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by AKS286 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.

Posted by zenboomerang 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...

Posted by poms_have_short_memories 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.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge 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.

Posted by landl47 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.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (March 30, 2013, 23:24 GMT)

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

Posted by bumsonseats 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

Posted by cheeseburgers on (March 29, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

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

Posted by Vnott 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

Posted by 2.14istherunrate 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.

Posted by Mitty2 on (March 29, 2013, 13:50 GMT)

@64blip.. C'mon. Test and odi's are a completely different bowl game. As there's so much talk of an easy ashes win for England I've had to indulge myself in comparing the two sides: I've used the fact that we have statistically a better pace attack/depth (regardless to who we put on the park, all combinations barring johnson have better averages than broad, Finn and Anderson); the world's best batsmen, the worlds best opening partnership and a better win/loss since the ashes. This justification for the horrendous 4-0 and protection of our ashes chances is natural because I'm a devout follower of Australian cricket, but never would I ever, even if we won that series, use the results of two different formats as a point of comparison.

English, Australian and Indian conditions are all completely different in the test set up to the odi set up. Compare the recent chennai pitch to any Indian odi pitch. Compare the 2011 Hobart pitch to an Adelaide/manuka ODI road. All completely different.

Posted by 64blip on (March 29, 2013, 13:17 GMT)

@Mitty2 It's the only direct comparison available. Apparently looking at what both sides have just managed in India doesn't count. They can average what they like in Australia, (in a competition whose best batsman is Ponting according to the averages), the Ashes are being played here first. I'm sure if Australia hadn't been hammered 4-0 and those bowlers had taken some wickets we'd never have heard the last of it, ODI or not. White or red ball they encountered English conditions and came up short. They might have talent, but they have little (or no) experience of bowling in England and to assert they'll turn up and automatically find the right line and length to skittle out a settled, experienced batting line up on home soil is extremely optimistic.

Posted by Mitty2 on (March 29, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

@64blip, you know your struggling when you connect odi performances to tests. I'm sure the white bowl doesn't wear away quickly to make it easier for batting and I'm sure that that ODI pitch was so incredibly hard to bat on. As an indication of good ODI performances reflecting in test performance, how well did Finn bowl in the ODI's against NZ and how well did starc bowl against WI, yet how well exactly did they bowl against NZ and India respectively in the tests? Not to mention that only patto is in our best 6 quicks from those, and he averages 23 in FC with the red ball.

@beertijie, I'm sick of Watson. As you said, why not youth? I'd love to see burns or silk batting in the ashes.

@JG2074, after watching him as the sole spinner in NZ, I was thinking just how much they missed swann. So agree with you, I've heard a few names been thrown around, but I'd say go tredwell if swann's injured. He has international experience, and unlike doherty who is our ODI bowler, he actually turns it.

Posted by TeamRocker on (March 29, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

Swann aside, I think the main problem for Australia will be getting the British batsmen out. Cook, KP, Bell and Prior are the main threats and maybe Compton too. However, I am confident in Bird, Patto, Siddle, Starc and Faulkner to make an impact. Warner may be able to play well in swinging conditions if his place is kept on the line. For me, the key is to have players being forced to fight for their place. You see that in a batsmen like Smith, and you don't in Watson. Make it clear to them that their place in the squad is on the line.

Posted by 64blip on (March 29, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

Good news, looking forward to watching Swanny. You always sit up and take notice when he comes on to bowl as he so often takes a wicket first over. A lot of Aussie WUMS on here, so: I hope Swann's form with the bat continues, as we're going to need it against the Aus pace battery. How did they do in the one-dayers here, less than 12 months ago? Let's see: Hilfenhaus, Cummins, Pattinson and Johnson, 2/231 between them. Wait, Starc took 7 wickets in a couple of matches for Yorkshire! Oh, in Division 2. Don't get too excited.

Posted by JG2704 on (March 29, 2013, 10:53 GMT)

Good news re Swann. Monty doesn't seem right for the lone spinner role which I think requires more guile which is more suitable for Swann. I'd still say that in SC conditions Monty should partner Swann in the attack as it gives the attck more variety but maybe if Swann is injured in home conditions we should go for someone else

Posted by Beertjie on (March 29, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

As has been pointed out ad infinitum, again here by @landl47 on (March 29, 2013, 5:34 GMT), with so many LHB Swann will be a key figure. Agree with you mate @Big_Maxy_Walker on (March 29, 2013, 7:10 GMT) that "a drawn series is all we can hope for." But if we give certain players experience on the A tour (Cummins, Agar, Burns, Doolan) AND some of the batters on their first Ashes tour prove their mettle, then we can regain the urn. I like your top 7 @Bird_bird_bird on (March 29, 2013, 3:49 GMT), but Swann will be a problem - another RHB needed, but I'm going to laughed at for suggesting Watson. Yes the cupboard is currently quite bare, so let's have some experience interspersed with the youth.

Posted by gsingh7 on (March 29, 2013, 10:19 GMT)

swann have mental block when he plays ashes . he averages above 40 and monty above 45. even mediocre bowlers in sl and bangladesh have better averages than that. surely rank turners helped them in india but when they played on bouncy green tops in nz look what monty did. fulton hit him repeatedly over his head for sixes knoing he is just a finger spinner and only does well in spinning tracks of uae and india. swann alone was thrashed in first test in india where sehwag hit him to all parts of ground on way to his century . if there are bouncy green tops in england as usual then expect big hundreds from swann and monty ala lyon in india.

Posted by Mitty2 on (March 29, 2013, 7:11 GMT)

Another good response @landl47. All though I'm not too sure Marcus north, Nathan hauritz, Michael beer and Xavier Doherty provide any fair comparison. Considering just how many tests they played and now, in the present, all are below lyon, o'keefe, Ahmed and agar.

I think the criticism in swann there is more due to comparison to his career stats to his performance against aus. We all know that his talent goes to the extent of consistently being able to take wickets when there's not much assistance, and barring the series against SA when there was a pre-conceived plan against him, he always looks dangerous. I remember in the disastrous 10/11 ashes series that whenever he came on in the attack there was always that worry that he would quickly nab out a few wickets, which would compound the damage that anderson and/or tremlett already inflicted. And to be honest, with his very good overall test average, it isn't a criticism on him personally, it is a response to the idea of two spinners

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (March 29, 2013, 7:10 GMT)

the aussie fans here trying to state their case should maybe think about what they are saying. we just got flogged by an average team. Now we will be facing a team who has a mental hold over the ashes, plus a steady batting lineup and two world class bowlers in swann and Anderson. Neither of which india had. So I think expectations should be for a drawn series is all we can hope for

Posted by Mitty2 on (March 29, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

@jayzuz, good rebuttal. Im really hoping for Lyon. When a player gets criticized and ridiculed from all ends of the earth, especially when involving their technique, it always pleases me to see them succeed. It's why I want Hughes to eventually do so well and why I really respect cook. But I believe that if Lyon listened to some of the reports, he would be such a better spinner. As the indian reporters said, he needed to vary his pace more (all though this is no where near as important in India, just see panesar's/jadeja's success at consistently bowling 90k's), the lack of variety in pace is why panesar and jadeja will never prosper outside the continent. But most importantly, when he bowls over the wicket he needs to be closer to the stumps, he did this in Hobart and bowled much better and got that drift (but was unlucky with wade behind the stumps). But Lyon looks great when bowling around the stumps. Variance in flight and bowling close to the stumps is what makes swann so good.

Posted by landl47 on (March 29, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

It's good to see Swann feeling so positive. I'm not sure how decisive spin is going to be in the Ashes, but there's no doubt that with Australia likely to have at least 4 and maybe 5 left-handers in the top 7, plus another couple in the lower order, Swann will be a much better fit than Monty. Not to mention that Swann's a much better bat and fielder than Monty (although so is everyone).

Those criticizing Swann's record against Australia, just have a look at what the Australian spinners did in the 10 tests in which Swann has played. If that's too much work, here are the numbers: Swann 29 wickets at 40; all the Australian spinners combined: 20 wickets at 65. Like every spinner except Warne, Swann is less effective on hard flat wickets. However, he's been 50% better than the spinners he's played against, which is a measure of how good he is. Give him a pitch with some assistance and he'll run through any side. 49 wickets in 9 games on the subcontinent last year demonstrates that.

Posted by Jayzuz on (March 29, 2013, 4:28 GMT)

Hope Swann recovers quickly. @mickey76, if I were you I would look beyond one opponent when comparing Panesar and Lyon. Their averages are similar, but Lyon's strike rate is a whopping 9 balls per 100 better. So your claim they are not in the same league appears to be correct, LOL. Lyon is also about 7 years younger and will get better. Good luck to ENG this series, though. Given that almost all their top players are past 30, it's all downhill from here.

Posted by Bird_bird_bird on (March 29, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

@rednwhitearmy, sure our batting is seriously lacking, but we have the worlds best batsman and IF we select the right line up, (ie rogers Cowan khawaja Hughes Clarke Warner Paine/neville), we are much more competitive. But I'm sure Joe root, your "future captain" with his FC average of 37 and test average of 30, plus bairstow's test average that are in the 20's, and compton's two tons on a seriously difficult pitch and against a very proven bowling attack make them all the world beaters.

@Mikey76, michael Clarke scored two double tons in a THREE test series, against philander and steyn, who both average under 23, just imagine how much he's going to pummel your attack in which every bowler barring swann (and we all know how clarkey loves his spinners) averages above 29.94. Lol.

Mikey, for me, just compare all the averages of Harris, pattinson, bird and siddle to Anderson, Finn, broad and Bresnan. Even compare all of Faulkner, cutting, McDermott/Sayers to Harris, meaker and Topley.

Posted by mikey76 on (March 29, 2013, 2:32 GMT)

Bird x 3. Interesting views considering Aus just got pasted 4-0 by the same side we saw off 2-1. Siddle averages 29, Anderson 30 so not exactly much difference. Panesar took 17 wickets at 25 v India, Lyon took 12@37. Not even in the same class. Australia's top order is woeful, worse than NZ. B2B ashes victories is not arrogance, it's just common sense.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (March 29, 2013, 2:11 GMT)

Excellent, its all falling into place. Only 1 aussie averages more than 35 with the bat so even though its a 5 match series, im gonna go out on a limb and predict 6-0

Posted by Bird_bird_bird on (March 29, 2013, 1:26 GMT)

This is so cute, even after receiving a pasting from SA and Pakistan, and failing miserably against the "minnows" in NZ, AND drawing to the other minnows in SL, English fans still have the arrogance to suggest back to back whitewashes. Two scores of under 204 against bowlers who can't break the 135km/h mark and are largely inexperienced, not to mention both innings flops being in familiar conditions and being on flat or "unresponsive" pitches. You can only imagine just how much the likes of bird, starc, pattinson, cummings and harris, not to mention the much improved siddle (who has a much better average than the grossly overrated anderson) would be licking their lils against this line up. Panesar now averages 33+ and shares the same bowling average as Nathan Lyon, lol. Historically and statistically, when the pitch isn't a raging turner, he struggles to tale wickets, be economical and be a threat. Swann averages above 40 against australia so wouldn't be expecting miracles off him.

Posted by Mr_Ronan on (March 28, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

Swann has a TON to prove against Australia, having averaged 40 with the ball in 10 Ashes Tests. Panesar averages 45 against Australia so I'm sure they'd be none too concerned if Eng fielded both spinners. Swann's claim that he can easily outlast the two greatest spinners in history Warne and Murali, who retired at 37 and 38, is baffling. If Swann is still playing for Eng at 40 they will truly have declined.

Posted by rajkohli on (March 28, 2013, 21:17 GMT)

It will be a relief to see Swanny back as the sole spinner again in the summer, as the pitches in English conditions will not warrant two spinners.

Monty has really disappointed and not developed any variation to his line, trajectory or speed of delivery. You can guarantee that every delivery he bowls in a test match is either 89 or 90 kph, which creates comfort in batsman's minds and also explains why he goes for more sixes per match than any spinner in test history.

I remain surprised why Mushy has not taught him how to deliver at 78 kph and focus on vicious turn which brings back memories of the 1992 World Cup and preceding test series in England.

Posted by Surajdon9 on (March 28, 2013, 20:58 GMT)

England need to prepare all rank turner pitches so Monty & Swanny Could make it 5-0 for england....

Posted by Charlie101 on (March 28, 2013, 20:57 GMT)

I think the diffence between Monty and Graham Swann is between the ears and rather like Shane warne he has the mental strength to make that break thru and take that wicket when the teams needs it . I am sure having 2 spinners on favorable wickets in India helped both of them but I am sure helped Monty more. I hope Swanny makes a full recovery so we can pick the form player for the Ashes .

Posted by   on (March 28, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

Simple solution is to let Swann bowl with his other arm. The way the Aussies have been batting that should be good enough ;-). Seriously, we mustn't get ahead of ourselves. There is no such thing as a weak Australian side and we had a big enough struggle in NZ to guard against over-confidence.

Posted by poms_have_short_memories on (March 28, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

The pitches in the upcoming ashes will be prepared depending on the availability of Graeme Swann, if he plays they will turn, if he doesn't they won't. Simple.

Posted by   on (March 28, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

Seeing Aussies dance against Indian spinners must have motivated Swann further to not miss any Ashes games. Cheap wickets on offer. Best of luck England, we wish for a 5-0 drubbing in your favour.

Posted by whoster on (March 28, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

If things are progressing as well as Swanny hopes, this is great news for England. There's no doubt that England missed Swann (and KP) in NZ - and those two have the ability and presence to spark the rest of the side. If both are fully-fit for the next year, every chance of giving the Aussies a double-pasting. Swann will be licking his lips at the thought of bowling to the likes of Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja and Wade - all left-handers, and all unproven at Test level.

Posted by Pinarsh255 on (March 28, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

It will be a real boost for England if he can play the latter part of ashes. Given the number of left handers Aussies have and their ability or lack of it to play spin, a fully fit Swann may become the deciding factor. I think Monty will do better when bowling with Swann as he has done before. But even if he can't, Tredwell is a fine replacement. Classical off spinner, decent bat too.

Posted by hhillbumper on (March 28, 2013, 19:14 GMT)

lets hope he comes back soon.We need him fit and firing as Monty is not a front line spinner and England lacked a bit of a mutt about them. He always brings a lot to the team and we needed some break throughs

Posted by Shan156 on (March 28, 2013, 18:46 GMT)

Get well soon Swanny. England's premier off-spinner is a must for the Ashes what with so many left handers in the Aussie batting line-up. I wouldn't want to go with Monty as our lone spinner against the Aussies. With a mis-firing pace attack, it is important that Swanny gets fully fit for the Ashes. How we missed him against the Kiwis.

Posted by Ronita on (March 28, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

so end of road for Monty?? what his retirement plan?

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