Swann unconcerned by competition from Panesar
Graeme Swann has said he is not worried about the threat to his place in the England side from Monty Panesar, suggesting with his usual flair for a colourful quote that only a "fairly sad individual" would be perturbed by the good performances of a team-mate.
Swann remains England's first-choice spinner, perhaps as much for his all-round ability and dressing-room presence as his bowling, but has been overshadowed by Panesar after the left-armer's ebullient return to international cricket. Panesar claimed 14 wickets in two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE and continued that good form with 6 for 69 in England's first warm-up match in Sri Lanka.
Swann claimed three wickets in the same game and is likely to continue his spin partnership with Panesar in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka but he accepted, with England likely to only play one spinner at home, he will not retain his place by default.
Asked if he was bothered by the competition, Swann said: "I'm not. I think it's quite a sad existence when people start looking over their shoulders. I always enjoy bowling with Monty and we complement each other quite well because I take it in [to the right-hand batsman] and he takes it away.
"If in the summer Monty is bowling better than me and he gets picked then fair play to him. Of course I'll be hoping to be the man in possession but if you spend your whole life just looking over your shoulder I think you're a fairly sad individual. Monty is bowling beautifully at the moment and that bodes well because we need two spinners over here. If we're both bowling well we can hopefully bowl England to some victories."
England were comprehensive winners against a Sri Lanka Board XI, with the bowlers adapting quickly to the conditions - though Swann admitted the temperature was not to his liking.
"Confidence is sky high," Swann said. "I thought I bowled quite well in the warm-up match. At this point in a tour it's all about how the ball feels coming out of your hand and it was coming out great. I'm just getting used to the heat at the moment. It was too hot for me yesterday and too hot for me the day before. Hopefully when the Tests start in a couple of weeks I'll be ready to go."
England head into the Test series on the back of a 3-0 whitewash by Pakistan that raised question marks about their status as the No. 1 Test side. Another defeat would likely see them overtaken by South Africa, but Swann, who claimed 13 wickets himself against Pakistan, said he hoped Andrew Strauss' team will be able to put their experiences in the UAE to good use on the subcontinent.
"With the heat and conditions here, it's really brought home how hard it will be for us in the Test series," Swann said. "It was pleasing to win the first game and now it's onwards and upwards. We hope to have learned from the mistakes we made in the Pakistan series and put that to bed.
"Sri Lanka are a fairly similar animal and they have exceptional batting, probably more consistent than Pakistan. They'll be hard to bowl out and it will be a real war of attrition for us."