Swann realises England dream
Graeme Swann will make his Test debut in the first Test at Chennai - and spoke exclusively to ECBtv
England off-spinner Graeme Swann is delighted to have been given the chance to end almost a decade waiting to make his Test debut.
The 29-year-old was named in the tourists’ line-up for the first Test against India at Chennai.
His call comes more than nine years after he was part of former coach Duncan Fletcher’s first squad which toured South Africa in 1999-2000.
Swann played the first of his 15 one-day internationals against the Proteas in Bloemfontein but has since endured a stop-start international career.
He told ECBtv: “It’s great. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve waited a long time so, yeah, I’m really excited.
“It’s no real surprise. Being picked in a touring party to go to India as a spinner, you’ve got to think you’ll be playing in the games, you’ve got to be striving to play in the games.
“I think I’ve bowled well in practice, in the warm-ups, in the the one-dayers as well, so obviously I’m delighted to be involved.”
Swann is excited about bowling on India pitches in the long form of the game and he hopes the surface at Chennai will enable him to trouble the hosts’ experienced batting line-up.
“Anywhere you play is going to be great. It’s wonderful to be in India,” he added.
“They’ve got such a rich history of spin bowling out here and the wickets, when they do break up at grounds, tend to favour the spinners later on in games. Obviously I’ll be hoping it does that.
“This ground has a bit of a chequered history: sometimes the wicket stays flat, sometimes it breaks up. Hopefully it will be one of those wickets that does break up a bit and I can come into my own.”
Swann stressed the England team are entirely focused on cricket having decided to return to India for the Test series following the Mumbai terror attacks.
“It’s surprising. Now we’re here it’s very little distraction,” he continued.
“When we were back in England we obviously had to make the decision whether it was safe to come out or not, and wondering whether we’d come or not, it was a big distraction.
“But since then it’s amazing how easy it all blends into each other. We’d had armed guards anyway, they’re there when you open your hotel door and there when you get on the bus. We’ve just got used to them already.
“Believe it or not, it’s not a distraction when you’re on the field. At the end of the day cricket’s still batting and bowling and you don’t care what’s happening in the outside world when a guy’s running in to bowl at you.
“I shouldn’t think once the game starts anyone will be distracted.”
India’s last Test opponents, Australia, demonstrated the hosts’ can succumb to slow bowling despite their reputation for dominating the turning ball.
Another debutant, Jason Krejza, claimed 12 wickets in the final Test of the four-match series in November, albeit at a cost of 358 runs.
“Obviously Shaun Udal did quite well for the England team last time they were out here and Krejza for the Aussies got a few wickets but he got a bit of tap as well.
“So hopefully I can have a happy medium: I can take the wickets and not quite go for as many runs.”
Swann is likely to bowl in tandem with former county team-mate Monty Panesar for the first time since their time at Northamptonshire.
Swann went to Nottinghamshire for the start of the 2005 season, a move he is grateful he made.
“It’s nice when something pays off like that. It was a big move at the time.
“I didn’t want to leave Northampton but there were reasons beyond my control that I had to go, but it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
“Finding a club in Notts that have been so active in getting their players England recognition and playing for England is an absolute boon for me.
“It’s worked for Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad, myself and Samit Patel. It’s magnificent to be involved in a club who are so proactive in getting their players England recognition.”
Swann admits there were periods when he lost hope of winning an elusive Test cap but the honour was worth waiting for.
“Nine and a half years is an awful long time between potentially playing in your first Test match and actually playing in one.
“There are many times when I’d completely written it off but now I’m just happy to be here and will hopefully have a good game.
“I don’t just want to fill in for a game. I want to be here for as many Test matches as possible.
“That starts if I can have a good game, get a foot hole, then who knows what can happen?”