September 24, 2010

The best spinner in all formats

Graeme Swann's performances in all formats this summer lend credence to the theory that he is the best spinner going around today
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For Graeme Swann, the last couple of years, and especially the current one, have been nothing short of outstanding. Quite clearly, his stats during this period have established him as the best spinner in the game today. With Muttiah Muralitharan, the last of the three spin giants from the previous decade - Shane Warne and Anil Kumble being the others - retiring from Tests, there's a huge hole waiting to be filled, and Swann has staked his claim much more strongly than the others.

Since January 2009 Swann has performed superbly in all three forms of the game: in 22 Tests he has taken 105 wickets - the only bowler with a 100-plus tally - an average of almost five per Test; in ODIs during this period his record is equally impressive, with 41 wickets in 28 matches at an economy rate of less than four-and-a-half and a strike rate of a wicket every 30 deliveries. In 17 Twenty20 internationals during this period he has averaged less than 15 runs per wicket and 6.45 runs per over. Those are pretty compelling numbers in terms of excellence and consistency across formats.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at the current generation of spinners is that they lack in wicket-taking ability, but Swann clearly bucks that trend. Murali, Warne and Kumble were known for being attacking, and Swann, in his relatively brief career so far, has taken the same aggressive route, even in formats of the game that call for a high level of defensive skills. The current year has been especially rewarding, with 28 wickets in 14 ODIs, 19 in 11 Twenty20 internationals - he was one of the architects of England's World Twenty20 triumphs - and 51 in 10 Tests.

Graeme Swann in Tests and ODIs since Jan 2009
Format Matches Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Tests 22 105 25.57 2.92 52.5
ODIs 28 41 22.56 4.42 30.5
Twenty20 internationals 17 25 14.72 6.45 13.6

In the five-match NatWest Series against Pakistan, Swann was the only bowler from either side to average less than 20, while his 11 wickets was only short of the series leader, Umar Gul. For a team that has historically struggled to find incisive spinners, Swann has been a godsend, and the standards he has set this year have been incredible: in his last three series (excluding one-off games) he has averaged 17.42 (against Bangladesh), 20.37 (against Australia) and 19 (versus Pakistan). (Click here for his series-wise ODI averages since 2009.)

And it's not as if Swann has achieved his successes against the weaker teams - exclude Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and other non-Test-playing teams from the analysis and his numbers are still outstanding. As the table below shows, there are other spinners who've been more economical than Swann, but none have shown the same wicket-taking ability. Swann has taken a wicket every 32 deliveries during this period, while Harbhajan Singh has the next-best strike rate, at 38.5 balls. Daniel Vettori has been the most economical bowler by far, but Swann has a 25% higher strike rate than him.

Best averages in ODIs for spinners since Jan 2009 against top eight teams* (Qual: 150 overs)
Bowler ODIs Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Graeme Swann 23 31 24.29 4.56 31.9
Daniel Vettori 26 30 27.83 4.05 41.2
Saeed Ajmal 28 38 28.71 4.45 38.6
Harbhajan Singh 30 38 31.60 4.92 38.5
Nathan Hauritz 45 50 33.06 4.69 42.2
Shakib Al Hasan 21 25 34.52 4.45 46.4
Shahid Afridi 32 39 34.64 4.59 45.2
Johan Botha 20 22 40.40 4.85 49.9
(*excluding Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and other non-Test-playing sides.)

Swann's striking power has been especially useful for England in the middle overs, where he has picked up 23 wickets at an average of 28.34. Only Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal has done better. Swann's strike rate is again the best of the lot - 37.57 balls per wicket, compared to around 42 for Shahid Afridi and Ajmal. Vettori, on the other hand, has only taken a wicket every 57 deliveries. To be fair to Vettori, though, that's also partly due to the rest of the New Zealand bowling attack - since he's clearly the best of the lot, batsmen have preferred to play him out and then attack the other bowlers.

Spinners in the middle overs (16th to 40th) in ODIs against the top eight teams since Jan 2009 (Qual: 100 overs)
Spinner Balls Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Saeed Ajmal 1100 26 28.19 3.99 42.31
Graeme Swann 864 23 28.34 4.52 37.57
Shahid Afridi 1550 37 31.18 4.46 41.89
Nathan Hauritz 1827 42 33.30 4.59 43.50
Muttiah Muralitharan 683 16 33.75 4.74 42.69
Harbhajan Singh 1159 26 34.38 4.62 44.58
Daniel Vettori 966 17 38.05 4.01 56.82
Shakib Al Hasan 726 13 40.38 4.33 55.85

It's a similar story in Twenty20 internationals too, where Swann's average and strike rate are better than those of any other spinner. The economy rate isn't the best of the lot, but at 6.45 runs per over it's perfectly acceptable. Vettori's economy rate is outstanding, but compared to Swann he has required twice as many deliveries to take a wicket.

Spinners with best averages in Twenty20 internationals against top eight teams since Jan 2009 (Qual: 30 overs)
Bowler Matches Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Graeme Swann 16 25 14.72 6.45 13.6
Ajantha Mendis 14 20 16.15 5.98 16.2
Saeed Ajmal 21 28 18.35 6.52 16.8
Shahid Afridi 19 23 19.95 6.24 19.1
... ... ... ... ... ...
Johan Botha 15 15 21.33 6.15 20.8
... ... ... ... ... ...
Muttiah Muralitharan 9 10 22.60 6.45 21.0
Daniel Vettori 15 12 27.16 5.71 28.5

However, it's in Test cricket that Swann's impact has arguably been the greatest. In the four Tests against Pakistan, Swann was the second-highest wicket-taker, while his average of 12.22 was the best, marginally better than James Anderson, who took 23 wickets at 13.73.

Swann's attacking instincts find expression in Tests more than in any other format - a fact most clearly demonstrated by his Test average since 2009, and by the difference between his average and that of the next-best spinner during this period. Swann has averaged 24.95 against the top eight sides, which is more than eight runs better than Shakib Al Hasan's average, which indicates his attacking ability. In the 10 matches he has played against the top teams during this period, Harbhajan Singh has taken 41 wickets, but he has had to bowl a lot for those wickets: four more overs than Swann per wicket. Vettori's strike rate is even poorer, requiring 91 balls per wicket.

Best Test spinners against top teams since Jan 2009 (Qual: 250 overs)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Graeme Swann 18 83 24.95 51.0 6/ 0
Shakib Al Hasan 10 45 33.00 67.7 3/ 0
Nathan Hauritz 12 44 33.56 66.8 2/ 0
Harbhajan Singh 10 41 35.80 74.9 2/ 0
Rangana Herath 8 35 36.34 70.8 4/ 0
Saeed Ajmal 8 30 37.13 79.1 1/ 0
Sulieman Benn 12 42 37.54 80.3 3/ 0
Danish Kaneria 10 41 39.60 65.9 3/ 0
Daniel Vettori 10 34 40.41 91.2 0/ 0
Muttiah Muralitharan 8 31 41.74 78.6 1/ 0

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sonjjay on September 27, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    This is ridiculious why do most of our Indian fans have to trash every article about any cricketer, i thought atleast the sub continent guys had the connoisseurship to judge a spinner but I am surprised to read the comments here. With Bhajji on the decline and darting the ball swann is undisputedly the best spinner from the current group truly the best english spinner after jim laker...

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on September 26, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    @Rahul-indian: i'm so glad to hear there's atleast one level headed Indian cricket fan out there :)

  • Lion_of_Lanka on September 26, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    @satanswish: Swann is what 31 with only 113 wickets? Yeah right. Nambia would win the Cricket World cup before Swann surpasses Murali's record. As for ICC bending rules for murali, please, do your research first, ICC bent rules because 99% of the bowlers bent there arm more than 10 degrees not only Murali. Infact it was proven when they decided to test Murali's action. So yes, Murali does chuck according to old ICC rules but so does everyone else from McGrath to Lee to Pollock to England's own Jimmy Anderson with Sarwan being the only exception. As for Swann being the best spinner, sorry to disappointed but Dan Vettori of NZ is the best spinner there is in the current era since Murali has retired from test cricket. Unlike Swanny, Dan delivers whether it's SL, IND, AUS or SA and if I'm not mistaken the English media hyped Panesar in a similar way. Look where he ended up.

  • Victorian-Roo on September 26, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    @Fellow Indians

    Guys plz stop being obnoxious. To pounce on every opportunity of showing off dat we r better players of spin bowling & dat Swann should prove himself against us is quite frankly, childish & immature. Every1 knows dat Indians r excellent players of spin bowling but WHY d unhappiness when Swann is being rated a class act.

    THE KIND OF LOGIC THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE PUT FORWARD IS UTTERLY LUDICROUS. I can also put forward a question which goes like: "Since Indians are not so gud against Short Pitched bowling & haven't proved themselves on SAF and AUS soils (in Tests), why r dey No. 1 in Test Cricket then?" The very inconsistent stats dat is being blamed right now, is d very reason why we r on top of the Test Teams list. Therefore, I request for better sense to prevail and hope that the infighting is put to an end. Also, talent must be appreciated.

    My view on Swann is that he is a breath of fresh air. Sadly, we don't have many talented spinners today :-(

  • satanswish on September 26, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Swann is definitely best spinner playing around currently. He doesn't have any defective bent arm by birth so ICC don't have to bent itself to clear his action. I'd be happy if Swann takes 801 wickets in test cricket.

  • harsha_udayanga on September 26, 2010, 4:44 GMT

    I think he is a lovely spinner...and its good that England has him. I'm not comparing him with murali,warne or kumbli but its nice to see a spinner esp from england doing well. We all know that England isn't great @ playing spin and they have suffered inthe past on spinning wickets with bat and ball by not being able to play spin or ball spin. I think this might make the world cup 2011 more interesting. they will have to play in slow wickets..and by swann they will have a bit advantage and now maybe maybe.. England batsman can improve in playing spin...

  • Lion_of_Lanka on September 26, 2010, 4:22 GMT

    Corey Parr: Mediocre bowlers? Do you know that there is a certain bowler called Lasith Malinga in the Sri Lankan side who is much better & effective than the English bowlers. And since, people love ICC rankings do you know there is a bowler called Nuwan Kulaskara who is a former no.1 ODI bowler in the world? Ajantha Mendis who despite not being mysterious anymore is still an effective bowler. No? Perhaps you must be knowing Murali who is the highest wicket taker in both ODI & Test and is considered to be the best bowler ever. That doesn't look like a mediocre bowling side to me. What about England? A bunch of mediocre bowlers who make use of a Pakistani batting collapse to glorify themselves. Jimmy Anderson and Swann are the only talented players in the whole squad that come to my mind and Swann is yet to be tested in the subcontinent.

  • on September 25, 2010, 21:19 GMT

    I like how all the comments coming from the subcontinent seem to allude to past greats and avoid the fact that at the moment their teams are devoid of any wicket takers (Pakistan excluded). Who is going to take any wickets for India against Australia? Will Sri Lanka even bother to pick any of their mediocre bowlers? Swann can be considered a great English cricketer, given that they usually produce better fast bowlers. Just like Mohammed Amir is/was heralded as some prodigious child, before the scandal, because the Subcontinent is generally weaker in the pace bowling category.

  • on September 25, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    Did Rajesh jump the Gun ? Yes very much I would say. Swann could develop into a classy spinner. But it is too early to judge. He has to play all good teams and other locations as well before judging. He has not bowled much against World's top test and one day teams specially India and Sri Lanka yet.

  • mkamd on September 25, 2010, 18:50 GMT

    I agree that its a bit immature. Swan had a good season and thats all. He does not have a magical bowling art like Shane Warne or Saqlain or Murali. Usually when spinners come out successful, coaches and batsman all over the world try to find the antidote to play them and then you see them less successful in coming days. So Swan does not have any magical delivery and he has to show consistency to be among the great spinners. Saeed Ajmal is a ted more ecnomical and a ted low in strike rate. Some people may say that in limited over economy is more important. But I think both bowlers have to work hard as in future batsmen will come better prepared.

  • sonjjay on September 27, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    This is ridiculious why do most of our Indian fans have to trash every article about any cricketer, i thought atleast the sub continent guys had the connoisseurship to judge a spinner but I am surprised to read the comments here. With Bhajji on the decline and darting the ball swann is undisputedly the best spinner from the current group truly the best english spinner after jim laker...

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on September 26, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    @Rahul-indian: i'm so glad to hear there's atleast one level headed Indian cricket fan out there :)

  • Lion_of_Lanka on September 26, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    @satanswish: Swann is what 31 with only 113 wickets? Yeah right. Nambia would win the Cricket World cup before Swann surpasses Murali's record. As for ICC bending rules for murali, please, do your research first, ICC bent rules because 99% of the bowlers bent there arm more than 10 degrees not only Murali. Infact it was proven when they decided to test Murali's action. So yes, Murali does chuck according to old ICC rules but so does everyone else from McGrath to Lee to Pollock to England's own Jimmy Anderson with Sarwan being the only exception. As for Swann being the best spinner, sorry to disappointed but Dan Vettori of NZ is the best spinner there is in the current era since Murali has retired from test cricket. Unlike Swanny, Dan delivers whether it's SL, IND, AUS or SA and if I'm not mistaken the English media hyped Panesar in a similar way. Look where he ended up.

  • Victorian-Roo on September 26, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    @Fellow Indians

    Guys plz stop being obnoxious. To pounce on every opportunity of showing off dat we r better players of spin bowling & dat Swann should prove himself against us is quite frankly, childish & immature. Every1 knows dat Indians r excellent players of spin bowling but WHY d unhappiness when Swann is being rated a class act.

    THE KIND OF LOGIC THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE PUT FORWARD IS UTTERLY LUDICROUS. I can also put forward a question which goes like: "Since Indians are not so gud against Short Pitched bowling & haven't proved themselves on SAF and AUS soils (in Tests), why r dey No. 1 in Test Cricket then?" The very inconsistent stats dat is being blamed right now, is d very reason why we r on top of the Test Teams list. Therefore, I request for better sense to prevail and hope that the infighting is put to an end. Also, talent must be appreciated.

    My view on Swann is that he is a breath of fresh air. Sadly, we don't have many talented spinners today :-(

  • satanswish on September 26, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Swann is definitely best spinner playing around currently. He doesn't have any defective bent arm by birth so ICC don't have to bent itself to clear his action. I'd be happy if Swann takes 801 wickets in test cricket.

  • harsha_udayanga on September 26, 2010, 4:44 GMT

    I think he is a lovely spinner...and its good that England has him. I'm not comparing him with murali,warne or kumbli but its nice to see a spinner esp from england doing well. We all know that England isn't great @ playing spin and they have suffered inthe past on spinning wickets with bat and ball by not being able to play spin or ball spin. I think this might make the world cup 2011 more interesting. they will have to play in slow wickets..and by swann they will have a bit advantage and now maybe maybe.. England batsman can improve in playing spin...

  • Lion_of_Lanka on September 26, 2010, 4:22 GMT

    Corey Parr: Mediocre bowlers? Do you know that there is a certain bowler called Lasith Malinga in the Sri Lankan side who is much better & effective than the English bowlers. And since, people love ICC rankings do you know there is a bowler called Nuwan Kulaskara who is a former no.1 ODI bowler in the world? Ajantha Mendis who despite not being mysterious anymore is still an effective bowler. No? Perhaps you must be knowing Murali who is the highest wicket taker in both ODI & Test and is considered to be the best bowler ever. That doesn't look like a mediocre bowling side to me. What about England? A bunch of mediocre bowlers who make use of a Pakistani batting collapse to glorify themselves. Jimmy Anderson and Swann are the only talented players in the whole squad that come to my mind and Swann is yet to be tested in the subcontinent.

  • on September 25, 2010, 21:19 GMT

    I like how all the comments coming from the subcontinent seem to allude to past greats and avoid the fact that at the moment their teams are devoid of any wicket takers (Pakistan excluded). Who is going to take any wickets for India against Australia? Will Sri Lanka even bother to pick any of their mediocre bowlers? Swann can be considered a great English cricketer, given that they usually produce better fast bowlers. Just like Mohammed Amir is/was heralded as some prodigious child, before the scandal, because the Subcontinent is generally weaker in the pace bowling category.

  • on September 25, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    Did Rajesh jump the Gun ? Yes very much I would say. Swann could develop into a classy spinner. But it is too early to judge. He has to play all good teams and other locations as well before judging. He has not bowled much against World's top test and one day teams specially India and Sri Lanka yet.

  • mkamd on September 25, 2010, 18:50 GMT

    I agree that its a bit immature. Swan had a good season and thats all. He does not have a magical bowling art like Shane Warne or Saqlain or Murali. Usually when spinners come out successful, coaches and batsman all over the world try to find the antidote to play them and then you see them less successful in coming days. So Swan does not have any magical delivery and he has to show consistency to be among the great spinners. Saeed Ajmal is a ted more ecnomical and a ted low in strike rate. Some people may say that in limited over economy is more important. But I think both bowlers have to work hard as in future batsmen will come better prepared.

  • george204 on September 25, 2010, 18:21 GMT

    The things I like most about Swann are that he seems to actually ENJOY his cricket (as well me might in such god form) and when giving interviews he's not scared to give his own opinion rather than speak in drab platitudes.

  • Lion_of_Lanka on September 25, 2010, 18:02 GMT

    @ Chandra Bindu: Murali is the main bowler in his team because he is the best bowler in the world. It would've been the same if he was playing for any other nation because you use your best bowler the most. As for for bowling more to take more wickets, well, Both of them get only 10 overs to bowl in ODIs and Swann plays more test matches per year than Murali used play. As for saying Sakib should not be included as he is playing for Bangladesh, well, Bangladesh is a team that has defeated quality teams like Australia,SL, SA & India in the past and it's a player's skill that counts not his team. I'm pretty sure any team would love to have an allrounder like Sakib in their squad.

  • on September 25, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    shakib al hasan is mashing them up in tests

  • insightfulcricketer on September 25, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    Definite Swann is a terrific bowler who excites every cricket lover around the world. But to be called a great is bit premature. A beer can never be great but a fine wine yes. Sachin , Lara ,Akram, McGrath earned their spurs by excelling on all grounds against all attacks .For Swann to be called great he has to do the same. His time will come but for that excellence has to be sustained for a longer time. Still it is tantalizing to see the old fashioned off breaks thrown up and dipping being an attacking option once again. Prassana must be chuckling away in Bangalore . He was wonderful against Aussies in Australia and it might be worthwhile for Swann to give a call to the great man and get his inputs before November as they both look very similar. For nothing Ian Chappel still considers Prassana the best off spinner he ever played against.

  • on September 25, 2010, 13:04 GMT

    @jigneshpatel funny how you mentioned that ,I feel swann is in the class of Warney as far as appealing is concerned.Warne was a very clever in appealing , he used to let go of those 70:30 decisions and get a lot of 50:50 decisions in his favor.I feel Bhajji is the worst in appealing , he appeals even when the ball has pitched a yard outside leg stump.And as far as the actions are concerned I feel it is basic physics that there has to be some bending of your elbow (whether it is 20 degrees or 5 degrees) if you have to bowl a true doosra. The straighter one can be bowled with a straight arm (like Ramesh Powar, Swann, Ashwin) but a true doosra needs a bent elbow(Murali, Bhajji,Ajmal,Saqlain)

  • on September 25, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    Truly great spinner. It was so dire in the 80's watching Embury bowl darts wicket to wicket as though that was the way to bowl off spin. He ruined 20 years of subsequent off spinners in the UK. The bigger question, is how come no one bothered to notice he was a class spinner for 10 years. He really must have got up someone's nose on that first tour he went on. He is without doubt in the top 2 or 3 bowlers in the world at the moment, and I love watching him bowl. Old fashioned, hard spun off breaks pitching a foot outside off stump. And to think people thought that traditional off spin was dead. You can keep a doosra, it isn't bowling anyway.

  • spiritwithin on September 25, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    how Swann can be called as great when he's yet to be tested in india(only two tests at 39.5 average),where he cant stop india from scoring 387 in the fourth innings in a 5th day pitch,yeah he took the wickets of sehwag,gambhir sachin etc but only after they scored a plenty of runs and he's yet to play in SL...

  • on September 25, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    what! swann needs to bowl against world class batsmen? where where you when he debuted in india and was cleaning up sehway and SRT??? "kaza" you must be going crazY!

  • spiritwithin on September 25, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    @Trickstar..Swann has an average of 39.5 in india thats y he's to prove himself in india,just getting wickets of dravid,sachin ,sehwag does'nt make him greats bcoz even part-time bowlers have taken their wickets many times,no if's & but's here,lets him prove in india and SL and he will b rightly b called as worthy successor to warne,murali & kumble

  • spiritwithin on September 25, 2010, 10:39 GMT

    @TheBigFatFlapjack..just like subcontinent batsman alway has to prove themselves in SA,australia & eng,similar criterion sud be applied to swann as well...he's not great until he proves himself in india and in SL....there sud'nt be a double standard for different teams

  • on September 25, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    So WHEN WILL HE PLAY OUTSIDE ENGLAND? that will be the real measure!

  • PrasadVp on September 25, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    Graeme Swann is a class act. The drift, accuracy and spin (he gives it a real tweak) makes him very special. Indians & Lankans play spin as good as Australia plus a lit bit more. To say that India & SL has never had shortcomings against quality spin bowling is ridiculous. We were troubled by Saqlain, Mendis and also by lots of good spinners. But probably we remember only the fours and sixes we score off them subsequently. SL had major trouble facing Warne in SL itself. Swann is a very good bowler and has the attitude to go with. Let us give credit where it is due. Let us not pre-judge his success against India/SL. BTW he troubled Mo.Yousuf just recently, who is one of the best players of spin in the subcontinent.

  • IPL_is_Thrash on September 25, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    It doesn't matter whether he is World Class or not ? Whether he will be effective against India / SriLanka / Bangladesh / Pakistan or not ? But now he has got excellent performances under his belt and that will count itself. I hope he will continue to do so and stay away from that non-sense IPL. The day he involves in IPL will be the beginning of his downfall.

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on September 25, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    oh please! to all the indians in here who feel swann isnt world class: theres no better spinner than swann in world cricket at the moment, and i'd even go on to say theres no better bowler than him except maybe, and its just maybe, dale steyn. yes, swann still hasnt proved himself against the aussies/indians/srilankans but that shouldn't automatically invalidate any oh his recent achievements. its true a large chunk of his wickets have come against the weaker players of spin but it was the same for warne and murali (forget kumble, he's not as good as his fans claim him to be). swann has some way to go to achieve greatness. he has to prove his worth against the teams mentioned and above all have a lengthy career which isnt very likely given england's fatal selection policies. but provided these can be satisfied, a test career with 350+ wickets at a sub-25 average is achieveable.

  • on September 25, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    Like many have said so far, lets reserve judgment till he has had a full tour of Sri Lanka and India. Can't start throwing superlatives around like that. He might have been the best in the past two years, but that statement needs an asterisk or a qualification. Thats all. I'm sure most would agree that that's just fair, right?

  • Trickstar on September 25, 2010, 3:40 GMT

    What's everyone talking about Warne and Murali for getting their knickers in a twist, nobody is comparing him to them and to be honest, if he gets any where near what they did,he will be a legend and done his job as far as England Cricket fans expect, especially considering he's 30. Swann so far has improved each time he takes the field, he's a far better bowler than the guy who faced the Indians in 2008 and better than in the Ashes last year. His one day bowling has moved to another level all together and has left all the England fans and probably fans from else where ,saying where has he been for the 10 years. To be honest I think he will continue to surprise people with his performances and get better and better.

  • Trickstar on September 25, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    The Indians and the Sri Lankans will go the same way as the rest of Swanns' victims,before he went to South Africa they said it was a spinners grave yard, but Swann proved them wrong.They said the Pakistanis' could play spin, that was proved wrong.The fact is, he keeps doing the business against everyone put in front of him, in all formats and I'll tell all you 'he hasn't done it against the Indians' prepared to be shut up once and for all next year, when they are over in England,but then it will be 'he can only do it because he's in England'.The fact is Swann is the real deal ,he isn't a flash in the pan and he constantly gets the best players out.The fact is against India in '08 he bowled well for his first games, got 8 wickets, the same has Harbajhan, and got out Gambhir x3, Sehwag, Dravid x2, Tendulker and Laxman, to me that's a who's who of Indian batsman.Don't make me laugh, has to prove himself against the Indians.

  • KaZsa on September 25, 2010, 2:25 GMT

    His big test will be against players in the caliber of Sanga,Mahela,Sachin,Viru and Dravid.How he does in the subcontinental pitches against the champions against spin bowling will determine his true potential as a spinner.But have to say,he is been very impressive so far and surely is the best spinner in Tests right now.

  • BillyCC on September 24, 2010, 23:19 GMT

    Swann is a good spinner, but clearly nowhere the greats of the game. He can get there though and these next few years will be telling as spinners peak older than other bowlers.

  • on September 24, 2010, 22:26 GMT

    We will see how he does in the subcontinent. It will take some beating to beat Murali that's for sure. Swann is a good bowler but he has a long way to go.Can he stand the test that murali went through????????? . That's left to be seen. Murali will always be the king of off Spin Bowling . What the world does not understand is that Murali had so many deleveries in his armory . We will see who is going to beat Murali . I really love to see it.

  • Vice-Captain on September 24, 2010, 22:15 GMT

    He has a very nice round-arm action, and probably the best real off-spinner England has had. But, to declare him a true success or great makes no sense. He needs to play many more tests, against all types of sides and outside of his home environment to deserve being rated so highly. Folks like Sehwag, Sangakarra, Jayawardene, Amla, VVS or Tendulkar could make him look very average ... and a few average matches could destroy his confidence ... English players are known to be emotionally fragile -- and if recent interviews (not being ready to play Pakistan) are to go by, Swann seems very English.

  • Jaggadaaku on September 24, 2010, 21:56 GMT

    @JokerBala, have you seen Swan appealing LBW? Whenever Swan is going for the LBW appeal, you will see the little stubborn boy asking a candy to his mom. He jums many times starring the umpires, and going down on the ground and keeps staring umpires and continues shouting. And yeah off course that aggression is good. Bhajji, Murali, and Mendis, on the other hand, not showing that aggression when they go for LBW appeals. But you said the action of Bhajji is not perfect action. How? Murali's bowling action is not perfect off course, but Bhajji???? I don't believe. Swan's bowling against the series of Bangladesh and current Match Fixers Pakistan team, cannot put him on the great bowlers territory. But if we forget all other matters, then off course he is the number one spinner these days.

  • Pacelover on September 24, 2010, 19:45 GMT

    People say Swann needs to prove himself against teams that play spin well. They unfairly dismiss Australia as weak players of spin which is harsh, i mean Murali never found playing them that easily. Regardless of this Swann did play against India in his first two tests and took 8 wickets overall at 39. Murali and Warnie both averaged over 40 per wicket against India to put thi in perspective and i also feel Swann is much better now than he was then. Harbhajan needs a Bunsen to take wickets these days and he is the next best thing at the moment so right now Swann is top of the pile. In the Modern era there cannot be many finger spinners who can rip it as much as swann and his accuracy and control are getting better all the time. He will do very well on the subcontinent im sure.

  • cupid02000 on September 24, 2010, 19:35 GMT

    I strongly agree to whatever Rajesh has mentioned here.For my friends who are suspecting Swann's credentials here should think that what progress he has made in international arena.Since debuting in 1999, when he gave ordinary performances, has lately came with really outstanding performances.I dont have any doubt in his abilities with the variety I have seen this summer.For a player the most important thing is to adjust to the conditions and this guy is too good in adapting to conditions and match situations.Picking wickte(s) in his first over and repeating this over and over again very well proves this fact.I bet on him and know that there is more to come.Bye Bye Australians....:)

  • on September 24, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    swann recent series are against Bangladesh(worst test playing nation and england played two test series against them this year itself) and Pakistan(match fixers or spot fixers so they threw away their wickets instead of swann getting them out) so how on earth you call him great.the true potential of him will be known when he plays against Australia in Australia later this year where the pitches wont help spin bowling. And also when India tours England Next year, till then he is just a good bowler.And regarding his icc award nomination he was included just because England Cricket Board Chairman Giles Clarke complained to the ICC.

  • sharprider on September 24, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    The numbers notwithstanding, I still feel that Swann needs to prove himself under "foreign" conditions as this summer he was literally AT HOME since he was playing in typically English conditions on home grounds and in front of home crowds. His true test will come later on during the Ashes series as well as the sub-continental pitches and hostile crowds there. So, please keep these in mind before jumping to verdicts like these.

  • on September 24, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    It's really surprising that off late people are started to talk about swan. If i am correct he has started his International cricket at the year of 1999. What has he achieved so far? Why all of the sudden people are started to talk about him, is this due to his wickets against week teams like Bang/WI/Pak(As for as batting Concern)/Aus(Fast bowling dominating cricketers). That too in his own backyard. Has he ever created any kinda pressure against Indians/Sri Lankans/Pakistanies(in Pakistan). This is pretty poor to say that he is the best bowler at this moment. He has to prove lot against best batsmen like Sachin/Sehwag/Laxman/Dravid/Sanga/Mahela/Younis/MY

  • nlight on September 24, 2010, 17:07 GMT

    Swann is the most happening bowler in the world at the moment. And as we all know, it's bowlers who win matches.

    However, his chances of being named cricketer of the year are fairly slim, even without the drink/drive/cat scandal.

    If he keeps up his current wicket-taking performance, he should be no 1 choice for next year.

  • TendiyaRocks on September 24, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    Swann is very classy, but however I predict a better career for Shakib unless he goes the Ashraful way. He's 22 and has 5 wicket hauls against all countries he played against including the best players of spin, India. Plus he did a great job in his first stint at county cricket (he's the first bangladeshi to ever play county cricket) at now his team Worcestershire earned promotion from Division B to A.

    About Swann, the Ashes will be a real test for him, hope he preforms well in Aussie pitches.

  • dhoni_hater on September 24, 2010, 16:55 GMT

    Its very funny showing swann best spin bowler.. He will be best spin bowler after he played against good spin playing nations like srilanka and India.. If he show his spin magic to spin dominant strikers like dilshan and sehwag. He will be the best bowler.. He taking bunch and bunch of wickets against poor nations westindies,2 bangladesh series, pakistan.. All of them wil tell he get wickets against mighty australia.. Australia is good against fast bowlers and very weak against spin.. So as a spin bowler he have to show his bowling against good spin teams..

  • VEEJ18 on September 24, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    Quite impressive! Any captain would love to have a GS in his team. The captain can always count on GS for getting a breakthrough anytime. Consistency kisses his performance at this juncture and we hope it will in the coming years ahead and push him to the 'TOP League' of legends. Great work GS keep it up!!!

  • jokerbala on September 24, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    I love swann for the fact that he atleast has a perfect action unlike the Bhajjis , Muralis, and Ajmals of the world. Ever seen swann bowl a doosra?

  • on September 24, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    We had this with Monty Panesar when he first burst onto the scene, and after a short while he was sidelined and England turned to Graeme Swann. Since then, Swann has really kept his place within the side as he has an uncanny knack of getting wickets in his first over, and he's done that how many times? The balls he's bowled to claim some huge scalps have either turned through the gate (Ponting, Yousuf) or pitched just on or just outside Leg and hit the top of off (Farhat, Alam), meriting nothing but praise. Swann also bowled extremely well in South Africa, and I'm sure he'll bowl very well in Australia. He has that aura about him, and he's a joy to watch. England haven't had a spinner like that since Jim Laker really, and England doesn't produce quality spinners like the sub-continent do. Sri Lanka and India will be tough places to tour for Swann, but if he can get turn on pitches that don't offer much turn, he'll be a handful. He's a guaranteed wicket taker for England nevertheless.

  • schapagain on September 24, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    its funny but hauritz looks better spinner to me than harbhajan

  • on September 24, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    Again, I ask, based on Bangladesh's Test form over the past calendar year, what is the qualitative reason for excluding stats against Bangladesh? If you look at batting totals or ability to last the distance, Bangladesh hared faired better than Pakistan or West Indies for that matter - so why would a bowler's stats against the Tigers be dismissed?

  • svinodmenon on September 24, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    When you play at home you are at your best. Yes indeed he is a better spin bowler than others. However he played more in England. When he travels to sub sontinent he will feel the pinch. It will not be so easy to pick sub continent wickets. It is too early to call him the best, better is the word i can accept. However he is sure a better spinner than any other current spinners while playing in england. When Mendis came in to intl level he was said to the next Murali, Now he finds himself difficult to be in the playing 11. When he complets his 50th test with same kind of form then he can be compared with the legends. Shakib and Saeed Ajmal also Dan Vettori would be equally compatetive. Same applies to Anderson as a fast bowler. Endland use him only atr home. Come out of home and prove yoursely.

  • ShankarPalaniyandi on September 24, 2010, 14:07 GMT

    The comment made by Murali that Harbhajan would be the only bowler in the present era to beat his records should NOT be taken seriously. The world knows the record(s) set by Murali is a Bradmanesque value or should it be henceforth named as Muraliesque? Murali knows it is a typical question for any retiring cricketer to get a question like that and he was well prepared and just mentioned casually his buddy Bhajji.

    All Murali's records are here to stay forever for sure!

  • on September 24, 2010, 13:55 GMT

    Swann is the best spinner of the world for the past 5 years. England is a pace-major team and so Swann has to play against the odds. On the other hand Murali is the main bowler of his team and bowls more to take more wickets. Also, Shakib Al Hasan should not be in any of the list. He does not qualify because he is a Bangladeshi player and the stats should not include low-tier teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, who do not deserve test status. Actually you could discard Vettori too. NZ is not a deserving team as well.

  • on September 24, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    Swann is the best spinner of the world for the past 5 years. England is a pace-major team and so Swann has to play against the odds. On the other hand Murali is the main bowler of his team and bowls more to take more wickets. Also, Shakib Al Hasan should not be in any of the list. He does not qualify because he is a Bangladeshi player and the stats should not include low-tier teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, who do not deserve test status. Actually you could discard Vettori too. NZ is not a deserving team as well.

  • CricEshwar on September 24, 2010, 13:19 GMT

    Swann looks like another great in the making, hope his age keeps up.

  • VipulPatki on September 24, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    It's a treat to see Swann bowl those off-spinners. No doubt that he's the best off-spinner around today. Sure against India and SL, his bowling figures may take a bit of a beating but he still would remain a potent threat. I am sure Bhajji can learn a lot from him - starting with bowling action.

  • first_slip on September 24, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Vettory a full package spinner? i thought he is a defensive spinner who takes tail end wickets 9/10 time, and he is tend to gave a way lots of runs as well in an inning to takes wicket, word about swanny, yes he is g class spinner but not in the class of murali, warne, saqlain or even mushtaque ahamed, and buy the way he is not going to go even closer to murali's or warnnies records.. for me swann has to deliver against SL and Indians to be recognize as a even in Bhajees class.

  • Green_and_Gold on September 24, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    As with all things cricket - only time will tell if Swann will be considered a great player and ranked alongside the best. He has gotten of to a good start and will be tested by all countries in his career so I guess we will just have wait and see.

  • Hasso29 on September 24, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    harbhajan cant even come close to muralidaran record

  • on September 24, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    To be honest, comparing Swann to the other spinners in the world is pointless. He is far and away the best spinner and probably the best bowler in the world full stop. 83 wickets in 18 tests at an average of under 25 and a strike rate of 51 - not including Tests against Bangladesh? Figures wise that's as good as anyone and compares to someone like Warne. I'm not suggesting he's as good as Warne but if he carries on he'll at least be remembered as the finest English spinner in generations.

  • Munkeymomo on September 24, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    @vivek tulsidas well just because Swann isn't from the subcontinent you don't rate him, what a surprise. Swann is great to watch, has a beautiful action (much nicer than kumble or muralis) and spins the ball like a demon... on English wickets!! I agree he needs to be tested by India and Sri Lanka but just because he hasn't had the chance doesn't take anything away from his achievements.

  • MOONCRI on September 24, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Sawan is very excellent spinner...........I think he will going to be as great Warne in the future.

  • --.-- on September 24, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    Well Muttiah Muralitharan had said only Harbhajan Singh can break his record (or come closer) but it wouldn't be a surprise if Swann first beats Harbhajan and then ends up near Muttiah's record, provided if he plays for another 8-10 years. But if Bhajji regains his form then he will be unstoppable; He has already bagged 357 wickets. I really miss legends like Warne, Murali and Kumble :( @ vaks You got it right. It takes only a few innings to end the career of a bowler. Saqlin & Sami know it very well.

  • My.AlterEgo_U.Knw_dSarcastic.Bichy1 on September 24, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    Don't judge Swann by his performance against Pakistan's poor batting line-up. Batsmen like Fawad, Asad, Hafeez, Farhat & Amin are good for nothing and the rest are just sloggers (except M. Yousuf). Yes, SWANN IS A GOOD BOWLER but let him play more matches against the likes of Sri Lanka & India in subcontinent.

  • Jimlad on September 24, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    Ok stop with putting swanny down against India, he has only had the chance to play two tests against them... his first series... in a rudderless england team. And yet, whilst his averages wernt great he did dismis, Gambhir twice (albeit after scoring a bucket) Sachin, Sewag, Dravid and VVS. so he has had the big scalps. And to be honest we dont need swanny to be good against India as we just use a little thing called the short ball, clearly the indian batters havent come across this before ;)

  • alexrickets99 on September 24, 2010, 9:21 GMT

    Find it hilarious that people are rubbishing Swann based on two Tests in India (his first two Tests, remember). Ever considered giving the guy a chance?

  • CSK-FAN on September 24, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    Lots of comments to play Swann against Ind or SL,I would say thats not fair.Agreed Indian and SLs will play better.But he had setup Eng to win matches."Stats are stats" cant blame if he didnt get chance or even if he fails in Ind or SL.He had succeeded against 6 out of 8 teams..guess its really nice!

  • anoopsy on September 24, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    Great time to plug this eh? A few days prior to ICC awards. Very Clever. Very Very Clever.

  • Soccerino on September 24, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    I completely agree with the author. Swann is by far the best among the spinners today. I dont know how well he can perform in India, but I am pretty sure that there is no other spinner today who can bowl better than him against Indians. These days when almost all the off spinners use doosra's or other varieties to get their wickets, Swann relies on traditinal spin bowling to get majority of his wickets. This alone speaks how good he is technically. And having performed very well on the not so spin friendly English wickets should give him confidence when he tours the sub-continent.

  • vaks on September 24, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    @Ross Vaughn...u r really spot on............

  • on September 24, 2010, 8:05 GMT

    The fact that Swann is the best spinner in the world at the moment shows how poor the quality of spin bowling has become after freaks like Warne, Murali and Kumble have retired....

  • vaks on September 24, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    I think Swan has yet to be tested against India at his peak against the likes of SRT n Sehwag.........Even Murali(he had fair amount of success) n Warne couldn't succeed against Indians....I think the only spinner who has succeeded against India in recent times is Saqlain Mushtaq in 99 series....Even he got smashed in his last test which played against India with figures of 1/204....Indian batsmen(sehwag 309,sachin 194* in that match) ended his carrier......so it'll b a great challenge for d champion spinner Swan to play against India n perform well....

  • on September 24, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    Swann is yet to make a mark in India, Australia and SL. Till then as someone already said, he is the first in a list of mediocre spinners. I miss Warne and Murali.

  • SLkrishan on September 24, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    Send Swan to Sri Lanka and India - then we'll see how good he really is..

  • Ramesh-IT on September 24, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    GOOD FORM, KEEP IT UP. BUT LET'S SEE WHETHER YOU CAN SUCCESSFULLY ATTACK SEHWAG

  • TheSmudge on September 24, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    I agree with Gizza. I doubt there is another cricketer in the world who is more valuable to his team, or arguably ever has been, than Vittori- such a complete cricketer. But I'd still think Swann at the moment is the man more likely to turn one through the gate.

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    @ Rajesh I think you are gushing about a cricketer who bowled against teams which were either not so good against off spin( Aus, which is not exactly has the best players of spin now) or in doldrums cause of inner rift ( PAK, would love to know how inzy , younis and yosuf) would've played against him. if Swann is so good , he should ve helped England win over India in that chennai Test, but he failed to do so against a good player of spin Sachin , let him play against Sri Lanka and India in the sub continent or in England and then we shall talk about him being the best in the generation. I think as time goes on, people will start playing him better, just like they did with mendis, he is a good bowler, not a great one by any means

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    I would say let Swann come to India..... All these stats are going to be toppled up....

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:38 GMT

    Graeme Swann is the best Off-spinner since Murali & Saqlain. Harbhajan is an overhyped offspin bowler in the same league as Monty Panesar. If Harbhajan was in any other team apart from India he would never make it to the final XI. Anyways, but its wonderful watching Swann and his totally fearless style of bowling. Kudos to the best off spinner in the world at the moment...Swann. Warne, Kumble, Qadir all are legends but Warne was probably the most 'thinking' spin bowler of all time.

  • fyrestorm on September 24, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Fair enough, but if you break down Swann's numbers it shows he is not that great. He averages roughly 40 against Australia and India. He averages roughly 40 in India...all spinners are "great" until they reach India and realise that the Indians are impervious to spin at home. I mean look what they did to Mendis. If he tours India again he will get pulverised. He averages 12 against Pakistan, 22 against the WI and 28 against Pakistan. Against the top teams i.e. SA, Aus and SAF he averages 30+. Swann is the best spinner out of a mediocre list of spinners in the world atm. He is nothing on Murali or Warne (although I agree the article doesn't insinuate that).

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Harbhajan will be disappointed seeing this...

  • thenkabail on September 24, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    Need spinners like Swann: Swann has shown great character. At present world cricket lacks quality spinners. Swann has certainly been magnificient to say the least. But , we need more spinners like him. Harbhajan is fading, Murali has retired, Ajmal is ok, and Mendis is no more a threat. But Sri Lanka has herath and Suraj Randiv have shown promise. India's great spinning tradition is loosing ground mainly due to lack of vision from selectors. Otherwise how can you ignore Murali Karthik and Piyush Chawla?.

  • Gizza on September 24, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    Kuzzy, yeah Vettori is the better cricketer because he is virtually an all-rounder and the captain. But just in terms of spin bowling, Swann is better in my opinion (at the moment, it might change).

  • Riz.Khan on September 24, 2010, 5:17 GMT

    Sorry Rajesh you should wait for the australian tour than write about swan and most important you forgot SAQLAIN MUSHTAQ in ODI's FASTEST 100 WKTS FASTEST 150 WKTS FASTEST 200 WKTS FASTEST 250 WKTS all above records hold by SAQLAIN

    http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/player/42628.html http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283537.html http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283535.html

  • Kuzzy on September 24, 2010, 4:38 GMT

    I think Vettori is still the best. Experience and his ability with the bat. The full package spinner. I am a bias Kiwi though.

  • UltimateCricExpert on September 24, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    Amazing Stats Swann, keep it up. I am very eager to see his battle against Sachin & Sehwag in England next year. Because these two batsmen has reputation of targeting the best spinner. (recollect Sachin vs Warne, Sehwag vs Murali).

  • nataraajds on September 24, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    yes, no doubt Swan top's the list of current spinners in business. His recent performance in SA and in eng against PAK is outstanding. keep it up Mr.Swan & go on and wish to see you in subcontinent pitches specially in indian where even Warne & Murali also strugle for wickets.

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  • nataraajds on September 24, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    yes, no doubt Swan top's the list of current spinners in business. His recent performance in SA and in eng against PAK is outstanding. keep it up Mr.Swan & go on and wish to see you in subcontinent pitches specially in indian where even Warne & Murali also strugle for wickets.

  • UltimateCricExpert on September 24, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    Amazing Stats Swann, keep it up. I am very eager to see his battle against Sachin & Sehwag in England next year. Because these two batsmen has reputation of targeting the best spinner. (recollect Sachin vs Warne, Sehwag vs Murali).

  • Kuzzy on September 24, 2010, 4:38 GMT

    I think Vettori is still the best. Experience and his ability with the bat. The full package spinner. I am a bias Kiwi though.

  • Riz.Khan on September 24, 2010, 5:17 GMT

    Sorry Rajesh you should wait for the australian tour than write about swan and most important you forgot SAQLAIN MUSHTAQ in ODI's FASTEST 100 WKTS FASTEST 150 WKTS FASTEST 200 WKTS FASTEST 250 WKTS all above records hold by SAQLAIN

    http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/player/42628.html http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283537.html http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283535.html

  • Gizza on September 24, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    Kuzzy, yeah Vettori is the better cricketer because he is virtually an all-rounder and the captain. But just in terms of spin bowling, Swann is better in my opinion (at the moment, it might change).

  • thenkabail on September 24, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    Need spinners like Swann: Swann has shown great character. At present world cricket lacks quality spinners. Swann has certainly been magnificient to say the least. But , we need more spinners like him. Harbhajan is fading, Murali has retired, Ajmal is ok, and Mendis is no more a threat. But Sri Lanka has herath and Suraj Randiv have shown promise. India's great spinning tradition is loosing ground mainly due to lack of vision from selectors. Otherwise how can you ignore Murali Karthik and Piyush Chawla?.

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Harbhajan will be disappointed seeing this...

  • fyrestorm on September 24, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Fair enough, but if you break down Swann's numbers it shows he is not that great. He averages roughly 40 against Australia and India. He averages roughly 40 in India...all spinners are "great" until they reach India and realise that the Indians are impervious to spin at home. I mean look what they did to Mendis. If he tours India again he will get pulverised. He averages 12 against Pakistan, 22 against the WI and 28 against Pakistan. Against the top teams i.e. SA, Aus and SAF he averages 30+. Swann is the best spinner out of a mediocre list of spinners in the world atm. He is nothing on Murali or Warne (although I agree the article doesn't insinuate that).

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:38 GMT

    Graeme Swann is the best Off-spinner since Murali & Saqlain. Harbhajan is an overhyped offspin bowler in the same league as Monty Panesar. If Harbhajan was in any other team apart from India he would never make it to the final XI. Anyways, but its wonderful watching Swann and his totally fearless style of bowling. Kudos to the best off spinner in the world at the moment...Swann. Warne, Kumble, Qadir all are legends but Warne was probably the most 'thinking' spin bowler of all time.

  • on September 24, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    I would say let Swann come to India..... All these stats are going to be toppled up....