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June 29, 2010
Graeme Swann has credited the coach Andy Flower as the architect of England's rise over the past 18 months, after they earned bragging rights over Australia in all three formats. England's ODI win at Old Trafford on Sunday handed them the series, and over the past year they have also taken the Ashes from Australia and beaten them in a World Twenty20 final.
Although the Australian line-up is undermanned, with Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle all injured, they would still find it devastating to concede a series whitewash over the next week. That would be a major achievement for England, who over the past decade have won fewer than 30% of their ODIs against Australia.
"The satisfying thing for us is that we sat down 18 months ago and said we want to be number one in all formats and asked how are we going to do it," Swann said. "We have plotted our way to this point and everything has gone well. We have won the Ashes, won the World T20 and won this series after just three games, which you might expect against some teams but possibly not Australia, which is testament to the way we are playing.
"The great thing Andy Flower had done is to instill a confidence in everyone to back their natural ability and perform on the big stage like they do in the county games. That was exemplified in the T20 the way we went out, not with carefree abandon, but it was certainly almost a joyous approach compared with how England teams have approached T20 the previous three years."
England's confidence has been apparent over the past week, especially in the way their bowlers have built pressure on Australia's experienced middle order. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have failed to have an impact in this series, while Cameron White and Michael Clarke have each played one good innings without being able to make it a match-winning effort.
James Anderson has led a miserly pace attack, while the spin of Swann and Michael Yardy has kept the Australians tied down during the middle overs. Swann collected four wickets at Old Trafford and said he enjoyed being able to attack Australia in tandem with a fellow slow bowler.
"I think it is a formula [playing two spinners] that should work in all one-day cricket," Swann said. "I'm in favour of bowling as many spinners as you can, especially in Twenty20. The way Yards bowled in the World Twenty20 got him into this one-day squad and he has been exceptional in these three games."
While Swann joked that England should be the No.1 team in the world now, having beaten the side ranked the best in ODIs, he brushed off suggestions that a clean sweep could give England an edge for the Ashes. Each team has two Test series to play before the battle for the urn, by which time Swann believes this result will be long forgotten.
"It is a completely different game," Swann said. "When you look in our changing room there are only three, four or five players involved in the Test team. For us to win this series is great but once November 20 comes round it wouldn't matter if it this is 5-0 to us or 5-0 to Australia, no one would give a monkey's. That first ball at Brisbane it is a whole new ball game."
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