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Page 2

Swanny's 'spinsters'

The former England offie's guide to how the team's young spinners can be more like him

Alan Tyers
Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar in the England dressing room, India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 4th day, Monday, November 26, 2012

"If you can't pull off irony in a photo, go with a manic grin"  •  Twitter

The brilliant and much-missed England offspinner Graeme Swann has been approached by the ECB to offer guidance to its crop of young spinners. Here's how his advice might look (not really - it's made-up):
Scott Borthwick. Scotty to me. Scotty Borthwicky. Expecting great things from this young fella. Or fella-y, to give him his full title. He could have the lot. Quick wit, banter, video technique, likes football. Exactly the sort of cricketer England need.
Monty Panesar isn't a young lad as such, but did show that it's never too late to get involved in some massive hashtag bantz when he done a jimmy riddle on those bouncers. Late-career LAD! Needs to work on his interview technique, try a bit of variety - slip in a cheeky funny one every now and again among the talking about good areas and looking like he might bolt out of the interview booth screaming.
Moeen Ali is an interesting one. Obviously any budding entertainment personality needs a recognisable gimmick, and beards are box office, believe me. Look how that fake beard moved Joe Root from being a back-page also-ran to a front-page star. All it took was a false beard and getting chinned by David Warner in the Birmingham Walkabout and boom, Rooty's a major sports entertainment personality who could go all the way to the Dancing On Ice big time.
Moeen needs a nickname, though. Nicknames are vital to any team unit. When Matt Prior started out, he was just plain old Priory. It was only when he really became Mayor McCheese that he came into his own. He used to look around the dressing room and say, "I belong here. I'm Mayor McCheese", and that was very inspiring for the rest of the lads, including Cooky, Trotty, Two Poos, Ladyboy, Mental Disintegration, The Sutton Strangler, Bogbrush, That South African Prick Who I Personally Always Got On Very Well With, and Obviously Very Much So Belly. We might have forgotten how to bat, bowl and field, but our nicknames were so drilled that they became second nature, apart from Compton, who didn't really fit in because he insisted on being called Nick, like some sort of massive weirdo nerd. Hashtag atomic wedgie!
I'd start Moeen off with something simple based on his last name - The Boxer, The Greatest, something like that - and then work up to a more expressive nickname like You Can Cal Me Ali or possibly Chairman Mo once he's got his confidence up. All the raw materials are there, it's just down to how much he wants it.
Finally, Simon Kerrigan obviously had a tough start to his Test career, getting smacked all around The Oval. I've told him: look, you can always retire. With the benefit of hindsight he might have thought about retiring during that actual match, possibly in the lunch interval, and I suggested as such. He said he thought that might be a bit premature, which is fair enough, but when you know, you know.