Swann 'delighted' to lead England
Graeme Swann has said he is "delighted" at the prospect of captaining England in the two-match Twenty20 series against West Indies later this month, in the absence of Stuart Broad and Eoin Morgan.
Broad, the regular Twenty20 captain who began his reign earlier this season against Sri Lanka, was ruled out of the remainder of England's home season, as well as the five-match ODI series in India next month, after sustaining a muscle tear to his right shoulder in the fourth ODI against India at Lord's. Morgan, Broad's vice-captain, was earlier ruled out until January with his own shoulder problem.
With Kevin Pietersen continuing his rest period, Swann was one of the few viable options within the current Twenty20 set-up. The other route would have been to give the job to Alastair Cook, the ODI captain, but that would have disrupted the top order which Andy Flower is trying to form ahead of England's defence of their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka next September.
"I'm obviously delighted," Swann said. "I'd looked at the [likely] squad and thought: 'I might have a chance.' It's a case of being fairly mature in the changing room, because we've got a few young guys who've not played before and need to have at least a semi-sensible role model to look up to."
Two uncapped players - Yorkshire's Jonathan Bairstow and Hampshire's Danny Briggs - have been included in the 14-man squad. There is also a Twenty20 recall for James Anderson who hasn't played the shortest format for England since November 2009.
"Graeme Swann is a highly respected member of the England side and his experience and leadership qualities will be invaluable when he leads a young England team next week - a role he is very much looking forward to," Geoff Miller, the national selector, said.
Such high praise from the ECB hierarchy would have seemed a world away at the start of Swann's international career, when his care-free attitude led to him being mistrusted by his first England coach, Duncan Fletcher, and banished from the set-up for seven long years.
Since his recall, however, his quick-witted outlook on life has become an integral factor in England's squad mentality. Though he promised that captaincy would not cramp his exuberant style completely, he admitted that the jokes would "stop to a certain extent".
"I've captained every game I've played, in my head, throughout my entire career," he added. "So I'll just do that a bit more vocally when I'm on the field."
Cook, who admitted his disappointment at once again being overlooked for the Twenty20 squad, backed Swann to lead from the front in his brief opportunity to take command. "The enthusiasm he has for the game will run off on people completely," he said. "He just loves it. I think he will do well.
"He definitely thinks about the game when he is bowling," added Cook. "He's always thinking about what the batsman will do. He's always thought like a captain when he bowls so I think it'll be quite easy for him. I don't know if he'll be orthodox or adventurous. But that's his character, so if he's going to stay natural..."
Of the squad in general, Miller said: "We have once again selected a blend of experienced international performers along with exciting young players with a great deal of talent. We have had a successful summer to date and will be looking to continue our form during the Twenty20 series against West Indies and finish the summer with two strong performances.
"We have selected ten of the players who were involved in last month's Twenty20 victory over India while the injuries to Stuart Broad and Eoin Morgan and the continued period of rest for Kevin Pietersen means we bring four players into the squad; James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Scott Borthwick and Danny Briggs."
Borthwick made his international debut against Ireland, in Dublin, last month while Bairstow was in that squad but didn't make the final XI. There are four spinners in the party which is a clear indication that the selectors are using the two matches against West Indies as a chance to look ahead at their options for the World Twenty20.
Squad Graeme Swann (capt), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Scott Borthwick, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Samit Patel, Ben Stokes.