Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day November 23, 2013

One mute Swann won't ruin a summer

He may have been dismissed around the Gabba but Graeme Swann's struggles - in difficult conditions for finger spin - shouldn't deter faith in one of the great spinners
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It was ironic that, on the day on which Graeme Swann reached a landmark that should have underlined his value as a player, he endured one of his most trying episodes as a bowler.

With the wicket of George Bailey, bowled playing down the wrong line, Swann became just the seventh England bowler to claim 250 Test wickets. Perhaps more pertinently, he did so in only his 58th Test.

To put that in perspective, it is the same number of games as Curtly Ambrose. It is quicker than Derek Underwood; quicker than Wasim Akram; quicker than Bishan Bedi, Shaun Pollock and Courtney Walsh. It is quicker, too, than any finger spinner. Only Sir Ian Botham and Fred Trueman, of England bowlers, have reached the landmark more quickly. Such figures, and a bowling average of 29.18, render it hard to dispute Swann's place among the greats.

Yet Swann has not experienced a happy Test in Brisbane. Unable to gain any meaningful turn, he was uncharacteristically anodyne and unable even to offer his captain much control in the field. Swann conceded five-an-over and drew unflattering comparisons with Nathan Lyon, who claimed two wickets in two balls in England's first innings, and even Joe Root, who was more economical. While he did eventually finish with a couple of wickets, they came when Australia were looking to up the rate in search of the declaration.

The kneejerk reaction will be to suggest that Swann is past it. To suggest that the Australia side, now lacking the number of left-handers on which he used to feast, may be more susceptible to left-arm spin. Some - though mainly those who did not see him bowl during the last county season - have suggested that Monty Panesar might come into the side ahead of him in Adelaide.

That would be a mistake. If any doubts remain about Swann's value, we only need think back to England's last Ashes tour. After a similarly grim Test in Brisbane in which Swann was punished by Mike Hussey and claimed 2 for 161, he took 5 for 91 in the second innings at Adelaide to bowl England to victory. Then, as now, he just needed some assistance from the conditions. In Adelaide, a more sympathetic pitch and Doug Bollinger's foot marks provided them.

Swann is far from the first offspinner to struggle in Australia. Even Muralitharan, perhaps the finest of them all, took his wickets at 75.41 apiece on the hard, true pitches which offer little turn and where the bounce tends to limit the number of lbws. By comparison, Swann's record - his wickets are costing 47.76 in Australia - is not so awful. The country really does present the final frontier for finger spinners.

Swann did not bowl badly here. There were no full tosses; few, if any, long-hops. While he did not present much of a threat, he was on a pitch offering him little and bowling against batsmen - Michael Clarke and David Warner - who played superbly. Presented with a fine surface and an overwhelming match position, they played with a freedom and flair that was hard to suppress. Even James Anderson, who bowled beautifully, was treated to some harsh treatment as the innings progressed.

"With the lead they had, it was difficult to apply any pressure," Anderson said afterwards. "They were able to play with freedom.

"Swann did a really good holding job in the first innings on a pitch offering him nothing. I wouldn't judge him on that second innings performance."

Lyon is a slightly different style offspinner. Unlike Swann, who searches for dip and turn, Lyon bowls with more over-spin which has, on this pitch, proved more effective as it has resulted in greater bounce. In a perfect world, England might possess a Test-class wristspinner or Swann might be armed with a "doosra" or topspinner, but his skills - his turn, his ability to make the ball dip sharply and his accuracy - have served him and England well, with match-defining performances in England, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and West Indies. Now is not the time to go searching for new tricks.

But this was not a wholly convincing performance from England with the ball. Chris Tremlett, bowling at a pace so modest it sometimes appeared he was equipped with a shuttlecock, was unable to maintain the pressure built by Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first session. While he finished with three wickets as Australia set-up the declaration, this has not been an encouraging return. Boyd Rankin or Steven Finn would, for example, both have been able to sustain the short-pitched attack on Clarke far more effectively.

It was an avoidable selection error, too. Anyone who had seen Tremlett bowl in the English domestic season would have been able to see that he is simply not capable of delivering the spells he could before his career was hit by serious injuries. On the type of pitch on which he would once have presented a nightmare proposition, he was dispiritingly impotent. The description of him as "a whale shark; huge and majestic to look at, but ultimately floaty and harmless" on Twitter may be harsh, but is uncomfortably accurate.

It is quite wrong to think that the role of third seamer should be primarily to offer control, too. At 132-6 in their first innings, Australian hopes were hanging by a thread but, due to the lack of attacking support for Broad and Anderson, they were allowed to claw their way back into the game.

But it should not be forgotten that it was England's batsmen who got them into this mess. Tremlett and company were forced to bowl for a second time only 52.4 overs after the first innings ended. In this heat, that is no easy task.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ScottStevo on November 25, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    @Fury, the fact we batted as long as we did was that Eng were so poor there were still 3 whole days of cricket left after we'd knocked them over and 2 after we'd finished clobbering their bowlers around in the 2nd innings. That's plenty enough time to get Eng out, as it proved so with the 5th day unnecesary. For all your talk of Swann, his records aren't much better than that of Lyon's when he was at Lyon's stage in his career...to be honest, that just looks like a sorry list of excuses for what was a very ordinary performance all round barring Broad on day 1.

  • ScottStevo on November 25, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    @Meety, it was actually stated not so long ago that he was the most beneficial bowler of DRS. And, if we're comparing his career average against, let's say Warne, or any other spinner that's played where DRS wasn't available, then yes, it's clearly skewed. I've not said he's not a good cricketer, he most certainly is, he's just not great - not even close. His record lefties vs righties is enough for me to prove my point. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes more wickets on this tour as he's a good bowler, but I'll be very surprised (and inconsolably upset) if he's at the forefront of bowling Eng to an Ashes victory this time around.

  • Fury on November 25, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    Time to get a few important things straight: at this level any top team that finds itself enjoying a 1st innings lead of 159 runs is going to bat with freedom and self- assurance in their 2nd innings, knowing that an ultimate lead of even 350 is historically insurmountable at the Gabba. The fact that Australia felt the need to build their lead to 500 plus shows that Clarke and Lehmann were not so sure of their supremacy. Most of their batsmen failed in their 1st innings and it was only England's lack of a dependable 3rd seamer (Bresnan) that allowed Haddin and Johnson to bail their team- mates out.

    Trott has clearly been mentally shot for quite a while and clearly needs time away from the game. Tremlett is bowling powder puffs and has to go. Lyon may look good on wickets in his own back yard but is pretty much a pie-thrower elsewhere and will never get anywhere near Swann's 250 Test wickets. England's warm up schedule was wrecked by the weather and Johnson had a rare good day out.

  • Meety on November 25, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    @ScottStevo on (November 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT) - I don't agree that he is any more of a beneficiary of UDRS than any other spinner. So he has poor stats v Oz (& for that matter the Saffas) - but Warney's stats v India are underwhelming too. England have a long history of great-ish offies, & Swann is at the top of the list. Please note my response was to the wording "...superb cricketer..." & I went on to include his slips fielding (rarely drops one) & a more than useful batting average for a #9 (higher or thereabouts to MJ). I am Ozzy as they come, but I respect players that have proved themselves & he has. There are no bad spinners to have taken 200+ wickets - only very good or great. He is near great & if he ends up with 20 wickets on this tour he will almost certainly have bowled England to retaining the Ashes & be an official great.

  • ScottStevo on November 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    @Meety, I disagree. I think Swann is hugely overrated and is nowhere near 'great'. That's not to say that I don't agree that Swann is a very good cricketer, he's just nowhere near the hype surrounding him. His career average proves that he's very good, however, against Aus he averages close to 39 and around 50 in Aus. He's also the most beneficial bowler of DRS which massively strengthens his career average and skews comparisons with those before him.

  • Meety on November 24, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    @Liquefierrrr on (November 24, 2013, 8:39 GMT) - sorry cannot agree with you there. Swann is a superbe cricekter. Any finger spinner with a sub 30 average is exceptional, add to the fact he takes over 4 wickets per Test - he is near great on the test scale. Add also to the fact - he is a very handy batsmen & superb slipper - he is a very good- near great allround cricketer. How he goes in the remainder of this Ashes will have a big influence on how he is ultimately seen in career terms.

  • Liquefierrrr on November 24, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    GP Swann vs. Australia - 57 wickets at 37.43 overall, in Australia 17 wickets at 47.76, in England 40 wickets at 33.05.

    Ultimately he's a decent enough spinner, a 29 Test Average is fitting as he is by no means, and by no reasonable person's understanding, a superb cricketer. He's good enough though. His average against Australia overall is pretty mediocre to be quite honest though.

    England need him now more than ever after this absolute hiding. I for one hope he doesn't find his groove, for a lot of England's very basic yet effective principles stand or fall by Swann's performance/non-performance.

  • Liquefierrrr on November 24, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    Swann embarrassed himself this test, completely outclassed by Lyon for the 2nd time in a very short period of time.

    Mitchy J was just all over England and England embarrassed themselves. 20/315 on a pitch all English fans declared to be 'a road' after day 1 (from their keyboards, sitting in England).

    Swann's time is coming to an end, had 1 good Test in the last series and was absolutely horrifying here.

    @Shan156 - what matters is the here and now and England were terrible here. If we are going to dig up the past how about the 2 decades Aus owned England?

  • Shan156 on November 24, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug, one can understand your enthusiasm as your lot are finally going to experience a test win after who knows how long. Yes, we have been outclassed in this test and, yes, it has been 18 innings since we scored 400 in an innings but your team was thrashed several times this year. Forgot the 0-4 (only team that India have defeated by a 4 test margin, lol) and 0-3 humiliations earlier this year, eh?

  • Shan156 on November 24, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    No use blaming the bowlers. The batting was a shambles. And, the worrying thing is, it looks like there is no cure for this problem. Trott? found out by the bowlers, Prior? hopelessly out of form after a great few years. Cook seems to have gone back to his old bad habit of making a 50 and getting out. Root looked OK in the 2nd inn although it looked like Aus. were targetting the other end more to win quickly given the rain. Carberry did OK in the 1st inn but he needs to watch his running between the wickets. KP is KP and would be the least of our worries. Eng's batting has been a worry since the India series (in which it was masked only because of the brilliance of Cook and KP). We almost lost the NZ series and didn't score 400 over 7 tests in the summer (in which Ian Bell was immense). So, let's leave the bowlers alone and worry about the batsmen. As Jimmy says, it is hard to apply pressure when the opposition has such a huge lead. Sub-200 scores in both innings is not good enough.

  • ScottStevo on November 25, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    @Fury, the fact we batted as long as we did was that Eng were so poor there were still 3 whole days of cricket left after we'd knocked them over and 2 after we'd finished clobbering their bowlers around in the 2nd innings. That's plenty enough time to get Eng out, as it proved so with the 5th day unnecesary. For all your talk of Swann, his records aren't much better than that of Lyon's when he was at Lyon's stage in his career...to be honest, that just looks like a sorry list of excuses for what was a very ordinary performance all round barring Broad on day 1.

  • ScottStevo on November 25, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    @Meety, it was actually stated not so long ago that he was the most beneficial bowler of DRS. And, if we're comparing his career average against, let's say Warne, or any other spinner that's played where DRS wasn't available, then yes, it's clearly skewed. I've not said he's not a good cricketer, he most certainly is, he's just not great - not even close. His record lefties vs righties is enough for me to prove my point. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes more wickets on this tour as he's a good bowler, but I'll be very surprised (and inconsolably upset) if he's at the forefront of bowling Eng to an Ashes victory this time around.

  • Fury on November 25, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    Time to get a few important things straight: at this level any top team that finds itself enjoying a 1st innings lead of 159 runs is going to bat with freedom and self- assurance in their 2nd innings, knowing that an ultimate lead of even 350 is historically insurmountable at the Gabba. The fact that Australia felt the need to build their lead to 500 plus shows that Clarke and Lehmann were not so sure of their supremacy. Most of their batsmen failed in their 1st innings and it was only England's lack of a dependable 3rd seamer (Bresnan) that allowed Haddin and Johnson to bail their team- mates out.

    Trott has clearly been mentally shot for quite a while and clearly needs time away from the game. Tremlett is bowling powder puffs and has to go. Lyon may look good on wickets in his own back yard but is pretty much a pie-thrower elsewhere and will never get anywhere near Swann's 250 Test wickets. England's warm up schedule was wrecked by the weather and Johnson had a rare good day out.

  • Meety on November 25, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    @ScottStevo on (November 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT) - I don't agree that he is any more of a beneficiary of UDRS than any other spinner. So he has poor stats v Oz (& for that matter the Saffas) - but Warney's stats v India are underwhelming too. England have a long history of great-ish offies, & Swann is at the top of the list. Please note my response was to the wording "...superb cricketer..." & I went on to include his slips fielding (rarely drops one) & a more than useful batting average for a #9 (higher or thereabouts to MJ). I am Ozzy as they come, but I respect players that have proved themselves & he has. There are no bad spinners to have taken 200+ wickets - only very good or great. He is near great & if he ends up with 20 wickets on this tour he will almost certainly have bowled England to retaining the Ashes & be an official great.

  • ScottStevo on November 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    @Meety, I disagree. I think Swann is hugely overrated and is nowhere near 'great'. That's not to say that I don't agree that Swann is a very good cricketer, he's just nowhere near the hype surrounding him. His career average proves that he's very good, however, against Aus he averages close to 39 and around 50 in Aus. He's also the most beneficial bowler of DRS which massively strengthens his career average and skews comparisons with those before him.

  • Meety on November 24, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    @Liquefierrrr on (November 24, 2013, 8:39 GMT) - sorry cannot agree with you there. Swann is a superbe cricekter. Any finger spinner with a sub 30 average is exceptional, add to the fact he takes over 4 wickets per Test - he is near great on the test scale. Add also to the fact - he is a very handy batsmen & superb slipper - he is a very good- near great allround cricketer. How he goes in the remainder of this Ashes will have a big influence on how he is ultimately seen in career terms.

  • Liquefierrrr on November 24, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    GP Swann vs. Australia - 57 wickets at 37.43 overall, in Australia 17 wickets at 47.76, in England 40 wickets at 33.05.

    Ultimately he's a decent enough spinner, a 29 Test Average is fitting as he is by no means, and by no reasonable person's understanding, a superb cricketer. He's good enough though. His average against Australia overall is pretty mediocre to be quite honest though.

    England need him now more than ever after this absolute hiding. I for one hope he doesn't find his groove, for a lot of England's very basic yet effective principles stand or fall by Swann's performance/non-performance.

  • Liquefierrrr on November 24, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    Swann embarrassed himself this test, completely outclassed by Lyon for the 2nd time in a very short period of time.

    Mitchy J was just all over England and England embarrassed themselves. 20/315 on a pitch all English fans declared to be 'a road' after day 1 (from their keyboards, sitting in England).

    Swann's time is coming to an end, had 1 good Test in the last series and was absolutely horrifying here.

    @Shan156 - what matters is the here and now and England were terrible here. If we are going to dig up the past how about the 2 decades Aus owned England?

  • Shan156 on November 24, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug, one can understand your enthusiasm as your lot are finally going to experience a test win after who knows how long. Yes, we have been outclassed in this test and, yes, it has been 18 innings since we scored 400 in an innings but your team was thrashed several times this year. Forgot the 0-4 (only team that India have defeated by a 4 test margin, lol) and 0-3 humiliations earlier this year, eh?

  • Shan156 on November 24, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    No use blaming the bowlers. The batting was a shambles. And, the worrying thing is, it looks like there is no cure for this problem. Trott? found out by the bowlers, Prior? hopelessly out of form after a great few years. Cook seems to have gone back to his old bad habit of making a 50 and getting out. Root looked OK in the 2nd inn although it looked like Aus. were targetting the other end more to win quickly given the rain. Carberry did OK in the 1st inn but he needs to watch his running between the wickets. KP is KP and would be the least of our worries. Eng's batting has been a worry since the India series (in which it was masked only because of the brilliance of Cook and KP). We almost lost the NZ series and didn't score 400 over 7 tests in the summer (in which Ian Bell was immense). So, let's leave the bowlers alone and worry about the batsmen. As Jimmy says, it is hard to apply pressure when the opposition has such a huge lead. Sub-200 scores in both innings is not good enough.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on November 24, 2013, 0:48 GMT

    England absolutely set the Aussies up to play T20 cricket as a result of their net in the first innings. Swann v Lyon is never even debated seriously as the two are so far apart in skill, class and record, but even Swanny had a poor outing 2nd innings due to a batting attempt first innings that was as unfocused as I've seen in a very long time. Adeliade should be perfect for Swann as we know what huge turner of the ball he is, and as Shane Warne has remarked often before, but England need to turn up with the bat to gain the position early.

  • inthebag on November 23, 2013, 23:40 GMT

    No one who knows what they are talking about is writing off Swann. His treatment at the hands of Warner and Clarke yesterday is a measure of how much they fear him. Good players in good touch taking him on because if he becomes inneffective the whole England bowling strategy is shot. It's risky but it worked yesterday. Let's see what happens in Adelaide.

  • Meety on November 23, 2013, 22:58 GMT

    @ dunger.bob on (November 23, 2013, 12:52 GMT) - i 2nd you comments. Swann will be key in adelaide & sydney at the least & is a champ.

  • Dangertroy on November 23, 2013, 22:35 GMT

    Swann is a good bowler( although not as good as he seems to think he is) and he will bounce back. If he is is angry about it, he should be angry at his captain, who set defensive fields and looked to Swann to contain rather than attack. The term let selection is baffling though, his returns from the tour matches were abysmal, and far behind either Finn or rankin. The Australians have a healthy respect for him after his last ashes tour, but he is clearly not at that level now.

  • on November 23, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    One disasterous afternoon does not make a good team bad. They turned it around in India, held on in New Zealand, and recovered from all out for 214 to win the Ashes 3-0. The game may be over, but the series is still on

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 23, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    To have reached 250 wickets in the quickest time ever is a truly remarkable achievement. That he is a spinner, a finger spinner , makes it doubly so. He deserves the greatest praise for this. I look forward to him passing Deadly Underwood's record as our most prolific spinner and his 300. Keep it coming, Swanny.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 23, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    The Aussies have a real opportunity to end Swann's international career here and I'm sure they will oblige. The gulf between the sides is now obvious. I thought the batting might favour England and that might pan out in a test or two but Australia's bowling is far too much for England away from home. 18 innings without passing 400 and it doesn't look like they will anytime soon with their lineup of genuine pace bunnies. They'd be right at home in the playboy mansion this lot.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 23, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    If anything, I thought Swann was bowling too fast and seemed underconfident to give the ball enough air - which is perfectly understandable given the aggressive approach of the Australian batsmen. I haven't checked the figures but it looked like Lyon was bowling slower than Swann, which would allow the ball to grip, turn and spit more. It's blatantly obvious that the Australian batsmen are targeting Swann this series and will not let him settle, but my advice to Swann would be to hang in there and don't be scared to drop the pace and simply vary the revs on the ball.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on November 23, 2013, 15:43 GMT

    swann will not find a place in greats if he doesnot bowl well in odi's. Whole world knows how indians thrashed his bowling when eng lost 5-0, 4-0 to india, that too in subcontinent, square turning pitches and he was dropped in last match of that series. Before odi was introduced, test performance is the only option to measure true greatness, but now odi overtaking tests Performance in both odi and test makes a player a great

  • shillingsworth on November 23, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    @couchpundit - You clearly don't know Swann and yet presume to pass judgement on his character. There is no evidence to back up your claim that his public persona is a PR front. There is rather more evidence to suggest that he can bowl. Let's stick to the latter.

  • valvolux on November 23, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    I just wished the Aussies shuffled the test matches around a bit. Adelaide is always going to be England's best test - flatter wicket, allowing their under seige batting lineup to get confidence and swann to get rhythm. Perth, where we've spanked them the last couple of times, should've been right at the head to give Australia momentum. The Aussie quicks have had this English batting lineup sorted for a while, we should be planning to our strengths and perhaps even denying adelaide a test! England took Lords from its seemingly embedded 1st test spot for the very same reason. Call me West Australian and a bit sour we miss out on a test next season, but Perth always has exciting tests with results.... and adelaide is always the test opposition teams look forward to most. Swann will love it there, but in Perth we could've sent him into an early retirement.

  • RogerC on November 23, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Swann is a overrated spinner who takes wickets capitalising to the pressure created by other English bowlers. This is why when other English bowlers fail, Swann also fails. Monty is a much better spinner than Swann, but he has other non-cricketing issues.

  • PrasPunter on November 23, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    @dunger.bob, yes in the middle of all the action, I really loved that passage when Swann was congratulated for his ton. Really nice stuff. He took it very well, looks a self-deprecating person.

  • couchpundit on November 23, 2013, 13:36 GMT

    @dunger.bob....its always fun to read comments than the article. your observation on swann could not be any further from my observation of him. I honestly think he is full of it ,but has the stuff to back it...never a humble person beyond PR reasons. But i did like the fact he took the tongue and cheek mock congratualtions in his stride. BTW OZ's have reason not to fear him, based on the fact that recently sub-continent spinners had no effect down south....but Swann is more experienced than recent spinners to visit Australia.

  • on November 23, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    Are we here to see how great or not is Swann OR just to discuss how he fared as a bowler? He was smacked all over and didn't pose any threat to the batsmen PERIOD

  • promy_cric on November 23, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Swan is nice bowler to watch, i feel no anxiousness for swan rather than i think about Anderson. i always consider him as finest fast bowler as dale stein, and both can capable of getting rid of anyone in flat track whenever they are in full swing.

  • dunger.bob on November 23, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    I've grown to like Swann over the years. He's tormented the hell out of us but he seems a genuinely nice bloke. Quick with a smile and doesn't seem in love with himself. Today, when his figures ticked over to 0/100 he got a few slaps on the back in mock congratulations. I know some bowlers who would have seen red at that, but he took it in great humour.

    He's a good man, and as Dobell says, it's a long series. I don't think all that many Aussies think he'll have no impact at all through the series. We know he's too good for that and he'll have his say sooner or later.

  • on November 23, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    Swann is a great bowler but it should not be forgotten how many extra wickets (mainly lbws but also catches from batsmen playing at balls they would have padded away in the past) he has got from umpires increased willingness to give spinners lbws over the last 10 years, and especially since the advent of the DRS. A study I read a while ago reckoned that Warne and Murali's averages would have come down by a couple of runs each had it been in place during their careers.

    Anyone that watched the warm-up against Australia A could have seen that Tremlett's pace is 5mph or so down on 3 years ago. Finn should have been picked as England's one bowler capable of getting near to 90mph, and poor Graham Onions should be in the party ahead of Rankin, disgraceful that they left him out.

  • SurlyCynic on November 23, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    Well it's not the first recent series Swann has struggled in, is it? How did he go against SA in England last year, even on the dust bowl prepared for him at the Oval? That's right, he struggled.

    A career average of nearly 30 says it all, certainly not 'one of the greats'.

  • neo-galactico on November 23, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    In addition, test cricket is about taking 20 wickets therefore I'd for England to pick their best wicket-taking bowlers. This means Finn-knee although expensive is a wicket-taker has to play. England need to go beyond attritional cricket to move a level in how they play like the England of 2010/11 circa. Bressy is a nice bloke but won't blast teams out so it would be more pertinent to have a bowler who can blast batsmen out even if he's expensive. On top of that, I'm liking Broads growth he's bowling fuller more consistently not the enforcer nonsense that impeded him. Good job Draco Malfoy.

  • CustomKid on November 23, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Interesting piece George. I didn't get to see a lot of day one but listened to it while in the car. I'm sure I heard one of the ABC commentators state that 3rd or 4th bowling option came down to whoever bowled the best in the last net session. That doesn't say a lot for Rankin or Fynn at all and is a massive concern.

    Fynn is a bit of mystery to me. I've not seen a lot of him but he seems to have massive potential in some of the spells I've watched over the years. If Saker could get him up and running alongside Broad and Anderson they'd be deadly.

    That aside I agree Swann is a very good player, however I don't think the Aussies fear him too much unless it's a turning dust bowl.

  • neo-galactico on November 23, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    There's no denying that Swann is an excellent bowler but his numbers against right-handers have never been impressive. He averages more than 35 against right-handers and around 19 (didn't check) against lefties. Admittedly, he bowls in mostly unhelpful conditions unlike Herath, Ashwin, Ajmal etc but because he doesn't have the one that a doosra and relies on natural variation (or the one that doesn't turn) he isn't as effective against righties. Additionally, I worry about Anderson in conditions in which the told isn't swinging whether conventionally or reverse, he tries hard but he isn't very effective like in the SA tour last year and today as well.

  • Beertjie on November 23, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    Odd then how Hugh Tayfield could take 30 wickets in the series in Australia in '52-53 when they were #1 in the world! Pundits always rated him a better off-spinner than Laker who only thrived on the dustbowls especially prepared for him. Swann may or may not be better than Laker, but a longer perspective needs to be taken on such matters, don't you think, George?

  • on November 23, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Anderson bowled beautifully? Are you joking?

  • SamRoy on November 23, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Dobell has a written an article of ridiculous proportions. Nobody is denying that Swann is an excellent spinner or one of the world's best spinners but comparing him to past legends is really not on. There was a time people could just pad off-spinners outside off-stump with full confidence that the umpire would not give the batsman out. Also DRS must have helped Swann in at least 50 dismissals. Yes, Swann is a classical off-spinner with a classical action but there have been several better off-spinners in the past. Swann: World-class Yes. Great No.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 23, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    Nice one George, "equipped with a shuttlecock" is hilarious! Once a first pick, what with Swann now? I like him as a cricketer and a character, he's great and you cannot knock his contribution to England but I think he will be ineffective here this time, the curators will see to that. Who knows what might happen tomorrow but I bet even Flower didn't plan for this situation.

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  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 23, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    Nice one George, "equipped with a shuttlecock" is hilarious! Once a first pick, what with Swann now? I like him as a cricketer and a character, he's great and you cannot knock his contribution to England but I think he will be ineffective here this time, the curators will see to that. Who knows what might happen tomorrow but I bet even Flower didn't plan for this situation.

  • SamRoy on November 23, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Dobell has a written an article of ridiculous proportions. Nobody is denying that Swann is an excellent spinner or one of the world's best spinners but comparing him to past legends is really not on. There was a time people could just pad off-spinners outside off-stump with full confidence that the umpire would not give the batsman out. Also DRS must have helped Swann in at least 50 dismissals. Yes, Swann is a classical off-spinner with a classical action but there have been several better off-spinners in the past. Swann: World-class Yes. Great No.

  • on November 23, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Anderson bowled beautifully? Are you joking?

  • Beertjie on November 23, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    Odd then how Hugh Tayfield could take 30 wickets in the series in Australia in '52-53 when they were #1 in the world! Pundits always rated him a better off-spinner than Laker who only thrived on the dustbowls especially prepared for him. Swann may or may not be better than Laker, but a longer perspective needs to be taken on such matters, don't you think, George?

  • neo-galactico on November 23, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    There's no denying that Swann is an excellent bowler but his numbers against right-handers have never been impressive. He averages more than 35 against right-handers and around 19 (didn't check) against lefties. Admittedly, he bowls in mostly unhelpful conditions unlike Herath, Ashwin, Ajmal etc but because he doesn't have the one that a doosra and relies on natural variation (or the one that doesn't turn) he isn't as effective against righties. Additionally, I worry about Anderson in conditions in which the told isn't swinging whether conventionally or reverse, he tries hard but he isn't very effective like in the SA tour last year and today as well.

  • CustomKid on November 23, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Interesting piece George. I didn't get to see a lot of day one but listened to it while in the car. I'm sure I heard one of the ABC commentators state that 3rd or 4th bowling option came down to whoever bowled the best in the last net session. That doesn't say a lot for Rankin or Fynn at all and is a massive concern.

    Fynn is a bit of mystery to me. I've not seen a lot of him but he seems to have massive potential in some of the spells I've watched over the years. If Saker could get him up and running alongside Broad and Anderson they'd be deadly.

    That aside I agree Swann is a very good player, however I don't think the Aussies fear him too much unless it's a turning dust bowl.

  • neo-galactico on November 23, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    In addition, test cricket is about taking 20 wickets therefore I'd for England to pick their best wicket-taking bowlers. This means Finn-knee although expensive is a wicket-taker has to play. England need to go beyond attritional cricket to move a level in how they play like the England of 2010/11 circa. Bressy is a nice bloke but won't blast teams out so it would be more pertinent to have a bowler who can blast batsmen out even if he's expensive. On top of that, I'm liking Broads growth he's bowling fuller more consistently not the enforcer nonsense that impeded him. Good job Draco Malfoy.

  • SurlyCynic on November 23, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    Well it's not the first recent series Swann has struggled in, is it? How did he go against SA in England last year, even on the dust bowl prepared for him at the Oval? That's right, he struggled.

    A career average of nearly 30 says it all, certainly not 'one of the greats'.

  • on November 23, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    Swann is a great bowler but it should not be forgotten how many extra wickets (mainly lbws but also catches from batsmen playing at balls they would have padded away in the past) he has got from umpires increased willingness to give spinners lbws over the last 10 years, and especially since the advent of the DRS. A study I read a while ago reckoned that Warne and Murali's averages would have come down by a couple of runs each had it been in place during their careers.

    Anyone that watched the warm-up against Australia A could have seen that Tremlett's pace is 5mph or so down on 3 years ago. Finn should have been picked as England's one bowler capable of getting near to 90mph, and poor Graham Onions should be in the party ahead of Rankin, disgraceful that they left him out.

  • dunger.bob on November 23, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    I've grown to like Swann over the years. He's tormented the hell out of us but he seems a genuinely nice bloke. Quick with a smile and doesn't seem in love with himself. Today, when his figures ticked over to 0/100 he got a few slaps on the back in mock congratulations. I know some bowlers who would have seen red at that, but he took it in great humour.

    He's a good man, and as Dobell says, it's a long series. I don't think all that many Aussies think he'll have no impact at all through the series. We know he's too good for that and he'll have his say sooner or later.