England v New Zealand, Super Eights, St Lucia May 9, 2010

'We can win this tournament' - Graeme Swann


Graeme Swann believes this is the first time an England side has looked genuine contenders for a global one-day trophy after they put themselves on the brink of the World Twenty20 semi-finals with an outstanding 39-run victory against South Africa.

The success was set up by Kevin Pietersen's crunching 53 from 33 balls, but the twin spin attack of Swann and Michael Yardy helped suffocate South Africa's reply. After struggling to come up with a balanced side for this format England now have all their bases cover with a long, hard-hitting batting line, a solid and varied bowling attack and a slick fielding unit.

They could cement a semi-final berth before playing their final match against New Zealand if Pakistan beat South Africa, but even if that doesn't happen only a significant defeat will damage their net run-rate enough to end their hopes.

"I genuinely think, for the first time looking at a team, we can actually win this," Swann said. "It's not all hot air and bluster. I think we've played some very good cricket so far in this tournament. We are playing the exact brand of cricket we set out to, as aggressive as possible with the bat and then to create as much pressure as possible with the spinners. Two out of two at Barbados, it's worked perfectly. Let's just hope it continues."

Swann's 3 for 24 against South Africa was one of many key contributions he has made for England over the last 18 months, but Yardy's success has been the surprise package. He impressed during the warm-up matches in Barbados and continued that form in the victories over Pakistan and South Africa.

"I've always been an advocate of at least two spinners in Twenty20 cricket," Swann said. "We've struggled to nail that over the last 18 months, but I think Yards has come in and done a fantastic job - just what we need, and more than useful batting. He's been a great addition to the team."

Yardy has been described in various ways from an 'unfashionable' cricketer to even 'ugly' but Paul Collingwood has often said that it is about substance over style and that's a sentiment echoed by Swann.

"We can't all be as gorgeous as me, when we play the game," he said, unable to resist his usual humour. "He's been brilliant. It doesn't matter how you do it; if you're running up and bowling and taking wickets and keeping the runs down as well that's great from him - coming back into a squad - because there's a lot of pressure on you.

"He's done the hard yards in the county game, like I had. He knows his game back to front now, and I think that shows when he's bowling. If he does go for a couple of boundaries, he's more than happy to run up and do it again.

"The fact we've got eight overs to bowl in the middle and the ball is turning one way from one end and the opposite from the other, it makes it tricky for batsmen to get set. That's why it works so well."

The match-winning partnership of 94 between Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter on Saturday included two huge slices of luck as Kieswetter was caught off a no-ball and Pietersen edged between keeper and slip. But Swann said it was no less than they deserved after England felt hard done by in their opening match of the tournament against West Indies when the hosts won on the Duckworth-Lewis method.

"Luck evens itself out. It certainly didn't do us any favours against the West Indies - because, in my opinion, we'd have won that game fairly easily had we not been denied the chance to bowl 20 overs. The Ireland game was a hiccup, and the rain probably did save us. It would have been a tense affair all round, but I would still have backed our bowlers to keep them down.

"Coming into the Super Eights, we knew we needed to make a statement in our first couple of games. I think against Pakistan we did that, but more so today. I believe we were exceptional."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A on May 12, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    Greg I'm not doubting Australia's batting capabilities and I'm not advocating England has a strong bowling line up. In fact, the contrary, I think they bowling is the weakest of the 4 teams. If anything, Australia's pace attack is formidable. I've been watching the Aussie's bat in this tournament and I just sense vulnerabilities, I think they're missing Ponting's measured aggression. I don't think their batting was exemplary at all against WI, actually, quite vulnerable. With relation to T20 formats, I think England's current batting line up is very strong and more reliable. And I don't think India were serious contenders at all. Their performance has been the weakest two tournaments in a row. Perhaps Tendulkar could fix it for them. Pakistan is a reasonable option to make a wager on, because as far as unpredictability goes, they're unmatched. And potentially very destructive. And if you look at their bowling, could be a really serious threat to Australia's batting.

  • Mohammad on May 11, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    The winner of the semifinal clash between Pakistan and Australia will win the final as well and I think law of averages will catch up with England i n semifinal or final. I do not see them going that far without gettting beaten. But with the current form that they are in, they can definitely surprise anyone in semifinal and the final. I think toss would play a crucial rule in the outcome of the semiifinal and Final because these are pressure games and the teams batting first will have a clear advantage and if their batting clicks and if they can manage a huge score, then they can put the opposition under tremendous pressure and can win the game. I think we should have a round robin for Finals in these kinds of tournments so that the toss does not become the crucial factor in deciding the fates of team in tournments as huge as a World cup, but that could take a toll as well. Anyways I am backing Pakistan to win this tournment with England being my second favorite to win.

  • Dummy4 on May 11, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    PK Chewy man, How can you possibly claim that England's inexperienced batting lineup is superior to Australia? Have you watched much cricket? England has more depth? What the f%^&! Next you'll tell me that Sidebottom is the best quick in the world and Swann the best spinner. Pleeeesssse, get real. I am happy to have a wager with you regarding Pakistan's chances, they are a rabble, they only beat Sth Africa because the Boks can't handle the pressure of being favourites. India were the only legitimate challengers, they have bought back to the field with the absence of Sehwag, Tendulkar, etc. etc. Aussie for another trophy, yes we have more room in the bulging trophy cabinet!!!

  • Gareth on May 11, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    All I'll say is, if England meet Pakistan in the final (which, staggeringly, is now a possibility), England will be beaten. It's 1992 all over again, except England haven't been the stand-out team in the group stages and Australia are looking fairly awesome.

  • Fraz on May 11, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    cmon aussies keep ur winning streak alive and end the World T20 trophy drought, u deserve to win and I believe no matter which opponent confronts u in the semis and in the final, the winners will always be aussies. GO AUSTRALIA.. NOT ONLY BEAT THEM, DESTROY THEM.

  • Nathan on May 11, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    Surprising that South Africa has crashed out and yet the South Africa A team are still in the competition ... ABP235, do you realise there is more to the Australian team than just fast bowling? Fielding alone gives Aus a 15-20 run advantage. That's cool though, write Aus off if you wish ... it just indicates that you haven't been following cricket for very long.

  • Sekar on May 11, 2010, 3:02 GMT

    Best wishes for Swann. Now that they are in semis this is a distinct possibility. If India makes it to the semis (though now looks difficult), then good luck for India. Otherwise, we will back England to the hilt. I would love to see a 20-20 ashes in which England emerge triumphant.

  • Dummy4 on May 11, 2010, 2:14 GMT

    @dylan you know what last time around south africa was the best side untill semi finlas where they crashed any one can win the trophy no team favorite

  • Zohaib on May 11, 2010, 0:05 GMT

    All right it finally happened...Pakistan are in semis out of no where and guess what they will play against Australia for sure even they lose against WI... Its time to avenge all the defeats of Australian tour and beat them in Semis....

    Come on Afridi & Co!!!!

  • Dummy4 on May 10, 2010, 21:23 GMT

    Well well. reminds me of 1992 WC in Australia, Imran's corenered tigers waited in front of the TV monitors for the result of the last league match (Aus vs WI), once Aus won, Pak was thrut the semis and then no looking back... This time around also, Pak has just sneaked on from no-where, the opponents are very strong, who have been steam-rolling the oppositions, simialarities are endless, we will see if the end-result is also the same or not ;)

  • No featured comments at the moment.