Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 2nd day April 4, 2012

Swann hits out at 'witch hunt'


Graeme Swann has hit out at what he perceives is a "witch hunt" against Andrew Strauss following England's four Test defeats this year and the captain's poor return with the bat and backed him as the best captain in the game.

Strauss was the major talking point from an England point of view heading into the Colombo Test. While the team was winning, as they have done for much of the last three years, the fact Strauss was not contributing hugely with the bat was generally overlooked. He has scored one Test hundred in 48 innings although showed the fighting qualities he has always had with his 61 on the second day in Colombo.

Swann, who took 4 for 75 to help bowl Sri Lanka out for 275, insisted Strauss had not been affected by the debate while adding the dressing room has barely given it another thought.

"He hasn't shown any signs," he said. "We only realise he's under scrutiny because some of us can read. I see it as a bit of a witch hunt and I think it is unjustified, but you wouldn't tell from way he carries himself. He's very laid-back and phlegmatic. He's the best captain in world cricket and a world-class opening batsman. He'll get nothing but support from me."

Barring his first two Tests against India in 2008, during Kevin Pietersen's brief time in charge and the two games Alastair Cook captained in Bangladesh, Swann has played his entire Test career under Strauss. He believes there is still a huge amount of credit available to him for his time at the helm which has included two Ashes series victories and the climb to No. 1 in the world.

"When anyone's in a position like Straussy and when things aren't going well like they have been then pressure builds up," he said. "My view is that he should be afforded leeway because of what he's done over the last two or three years.

"I don't think there's any man as capable of leading a team in world cricket. He's not in horrible nick, he's getting good starts and it's just one of those things all players go through. His barren spell is a lot better than other people's has been and he'll bounce back and be scoring hundreds before you know it."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on April 6, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (April 05 2012, 07:33 AM GMT) Sorry bud , I stand by my comms. I have tried to explain properly in a post but for some reason it hasn't been published after trying a few times so maybe some other time.No prob with you or most other Aus commenters like JBW and Meety who come on our threads and give honest cricket comms.

  • Paul on April 5, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    Its typical of the English press really, they do their best to force someone to retire through negative comments. English cricket is hardly brimming with talent waiting in the wings to step into the boots of the incumbent players. Selectors are well paid and have a job to do which is to select the best possible team it is not up to the players to stand down because the selectors don't have the backbone to pick the best 11. There is to my knowledge no one in county cricket of such obvious talent that playing Strauss seems a grave mistake.

  • spirit on April 5, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    @Valavan..Dhoni being good or poor wont make Strauss a better batsman or a better captain..a batting average barely crossing 40 makes him an average batsman,and dhoni is a wicketkeepr who can bat unlike Strauss who's a genuine batsman and when u asked how many tests Dhoni won in OZ well well may i ask how many Strauss won in subcontinent??the fact is England's series win in ashes and against india is just a purple patch and not an indicator of the coming of a new era,this english team is no way better than most english fans & former Eng cricketers painted everywhere,so its better not to make big nioses which most of u r doing

  • Randolph on April 5, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    Of course Swann would support Strauss, his spot is equally shaky. Both are in terrible form and don't really deserve their spots.

  • Roo on April 5, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    @jmcilhinney... Agree... Its like all the T20 haters that come on & just sledge regardless of the article... If you don't like it, don't comment - go elsewhere... There are a lot of better things to do in this world...

  • Roo on April 5, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    @JG2704 :- "other countries fans are on it like a bunch of school children"... lol... Perhaps you should have added "some" at the start of that sentence & also added that there are many English fans that continually ridicule India & Oz articles with pointless sledges... As you say - pot calling the kettle... No one lives on the high ground here...

  • John on April 5, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @Rooboy on (April 05 2012, 06:54 AM GMT) To be fair bud , you don't know the full amount of what is written in the English press or how some may behave towards Strauss and we don't know what goes on re Ponting. I actually do agree with you on Punchdrunkpunter's comms in that Aussia and India media obviously have no impact whatsoever on team England. Silly comms. But maybe the phrase Witch Hunt is slightly exaggerating but then again is the Witch Hunt phrase ever actually a Witch Hunt? Other than that it seems by many of these comms that it's a Swann hunt because what he said is pretty much what you'd expect any player to say about his captain

  • Valavan on April 5, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    @V_giri, What you try to say here. Swann backs up his captain, even any of you whine about strauss, as fans we support our captain. Strauss is very humble and down to earth, he never hits out at umpires as done by dhoni or punter. what did dhoni achive - 2 WC wins and Test no.1, Strauss already achieved Test no.1 so atleast 33% is achieved, btw England rate Tests higher than any other format. Great batting of Dhoni can be limited to ODIs and T20s, ask dhoni to open in tests and ask him to bat, Strauss is miles ahead of Dhoni when it comes to batting in Tests, Strauss scored test centuries in India (3), SA (3), WI (3) and 1 each in NZ and Australia. How much did Dhoni score out of India, just 1 that too in Pakistan. Any noises you make here is irrelevant as Strauss is only playing Tests and captaining in tests, so noises about ODI you can make if England plays ODIs. Strauss is far way better TEST captain than MS Dhoni. How many tests did MSD won in OZ? cricinfo please publish.

  • John on April 5, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    @v_giri on (April 04 2012, 21:36 PM GMT) Well done for living in the PAST.

  • John on April 5, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    I'm sorry but Swann gets accused of talking alot of nonsense. What exactly is nonsense about what he says here? Loads of pot,kettle,black going on here And even when he said England were probably favourites - which he said with a grin on his face - what's wrong with a bit of positivity? Strauss may have had a lean time with the bat but I feel his on field captaincy has by and large been good . It's actually quite funny that as soon as you mention something an Eng player - esp Swann or Broad or KP says - other countries fans are on it like a bunch of school children desperate to put their silly comms across like they are constructive or innovative. Probably having the backing of guys like Swann is what keeps Strauss going when the chips are down. What should Swann do? If he talks people accuse him of talking rubbish , if he refuses to talk he'll be seen as ignorant?

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