England in India 2012-13 November 6, 2012

India spinners 'no mystery' - Swann

Joe Fish

Graeme Swann does not believe that India's slow-bowling attack possesses the mystery to exploit England's recent struggles with spin on the subcontinent.

A record of just two Test victories from a possible 22 in Asia, excluding matches against Bangladesh, can largely be attributed to England's troubles against high-quality spin bowling.

These deficiencies were never more evident than in their most recent trips to Asia, where they were whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates at the start of the year. A drawn series against Sri Lanka in April restored some pride but did nothing to hide the fact that England were nowhere near to finding a solution to their issues against spin.

During those five Test matches at the beginning of this year, spinners accounted for 84% of England's total dismissals, with Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal, who claimed 24 wickets in three Tests, the principal beneficiary. However, India's lack of a comparable, unorthodox spinner and the "more traditional" pitches - compared to the alien conditions of the UAE - give Swann confidence that there will not be a repeat of England's early 2012 woes.

"I think last winter was a bit different," Swann said. "First of all, when we played in Dubai that was not really the subcontinent, that wicket was very unique in the sense that it was very skiddy and span as well. India's wickets are more traditional, more what people are used to, so I would be very surprised if that happened again.

"Secondly, we were bowled out by a mystery spinner that batsmen could not pick. India are not really blessed with a mystery spinner like that."

Instead, the options in MS Dhoni's 15-man squad include the offspin of Ravichandran Ashwin and the recalled Harbhajan Singh and slow left-armer Pragyan Ojha.

Although Ashwin has enjoyed a promising start to his Test career, with 49 wickets at 26.63, Swann's contention that he does not fit the "mystery spinner" description may give England optimism of improving their concerning statistics against slow bowling. Swann admits that these now well-documented troubles have plagued England's subcontinent form but is expecting the Test pitches in India to turn less than the Mumbai dustbowls of old.

Discussing England's inability to play spin, Swann said: "That has been levelled at us for a few years now and justifiably so. We have had a poor record against spin bowling over there. I think that is more of a mental thing now because the wickets are not that different around the world. Certainly the wickets we played on in Sri Lanka were not really spin friendly.

"They were not any different to playing at Old Trafford or Trent Bridge. They tend to spin more on day four and five but at times like that we need to forget where we are playing and just go out and play the ball as it comes down."

Swann believes the batsmen have learnt from their struggles against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and are now better prepared tactically for the inevitable spin onslaught that will greet them when the first of four Tests begins in Ahmedabad on November 15.

"I think we went into our shells a bit in the UAE and suffered as a consequence," he said. "We have learned, certainly as batsmen, that you have to be positive and you have to be more aggressive when you bat. We have got so much talent in the squad that I would not be surprised if we went to India in the Test series and really dominated with the bat."

Not since defeating Sri Lanka in 2000-01 have England claimed an away series victory over one of the major subcontinental nations, and just twice in eight attempts have they left with a draw. Swann, however, is adamant that they are capable of ending their suffering in Alastair Cook's first series as official Test captain.

"It is probably the trickiest place in the world to go and win apart from Australia. We did it in Australia; we went over there and we won 3-1," Swann said. "Most of the current team have got experience of that tour and we need to take that to India, use that and go there with belief that we can win.

"They are exceptionally good players on their own pitches. We are going to need to play very good cricket to beat them, but I firmly believe we can do it."

Graeme Swann was speaking at a spin masterclass organised by Rubicon - www.RubiconExotic.com/LoveCricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 8, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    @voice_of_reason on (November 08 2012, 10:04 AM GMT) I'm not totally confident (after UAE and SL) but I hope we can raise our game.

  • John on November 8, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    @itsthewayuplay on (November 08 2012, 13:06 PM GMT) Thanks bud. Yes it does get tiresome. Even some of our guys just talk in a jingoistic/cheerleading manner. I don't think you need to agree with everyone. I've had healthy debates with some of my own England fans , but I like to think they were amicable etc. All the best

  • Sharon on November 8, 2012, 21:06 GMT

    @itsthewayuplay on (November 08 2012, 13:06 PM GMT) - friend - top quality posting by you!.... I applaud you. We are all fan of cricket here. Many fan could learn much from you.

  • Rushikesh on November 8, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    Now its official, that Swann is best example of putting his foot in his mouth! I guess its a way to forget reality!

  • Sheran on November 8, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Spot on Swanny. I am predicting 2-1 or 2-0 for England against India. India's bowling comprises of medium pacers and average spinners. Should be a cake walk really. Indian batting doesn't look promising at all either. Pommies wake up! Now is the time.

  • lucky on November 8, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    we dont need a mystry spinner in the team because facing an school level spin bowler will be a huge task for england in sub continent

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    India never had mystery spinners but still bundled England regularly, its just an excuse that English cant play mystery spinners. The fact is they cant play spinners in spin friendly conditions.

  • associate cricket fan on November 8, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Collins Obuya is a better spinner than any of the indian spinners.

  • narsimha on November 8, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    the so called mistery spinner can only take wickets at uae , out side uae just ave , cant win in SL, WI , PATHETIC IN AUS -111 ave where as IND spinners are ok even in AUS , ASWIN AVE 66 farbetter than the over hyped mystery bowler he was also helped our team in winning in SL, WI .BESIDES THE 5-0 THRASHING IN ODIS in IND TO PAMS .

  • Cricket on November 8, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    @jmcilhinney I believe that a lot of posters you're referring to on here are Indian suporters who are struggling to come to terms that England played good hard cricket and India were just hopeless last year and then again in Australia. The humilations were and still are also symptomatic of all that is wrong with Indian cricket staring with the structure at grass roots level up. For many years, the cracks were papered over by Dravid Tendulkar Laxman Ganguly Kumble Zaheer. Now that these guys have gone or going, the problems have resurfaced. IMO based on this article Swann has said nothing to warrant some of the ill thought comments on here.

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