Swann rekindles Ashes flame
Graeme Swann is drawing on his experience from England’s Ashes triumph in Australia as the tourists prepare for the last Test with India at Nagpur.
Swann played all five Tests during the 3-1 win Down Under almost two years ago and is aiming for an identical scoreline in this four-game rubber.
On Sunday they kept hold of the Pataudi Trophy with a seven-wicket success in Kolkata, and Alastair Cook’s side are determined to prevail again from Thursday on a pitch likely to yield a positive result.
“Back in Australia, we didn’t get carried away before that Sydney game,” Swann recalled. “We spoke of how important it was to keep our feet on the ground. That’s all we’re doing here.
“People saying there is something special happening and things like that are very easy distractions to get caught up in. We’ll make sure we don’t do that.
“We’re not taking anything for granted; we don’t sit down and pat ourselves on the back and say ‘look how well we have played the last two games’. That’s a very dangerous place to get in.
“On Thursday morning we’ll assess the pitch, play accordingly and hope to win this game, because we obviously want to get home for Christmas having won this series 3-1.
“Whatever the pitch is we’ve got to try and win the game, that’s all we ever try and do.”
If not the wicket, Swann knows exactly what to expect of India who have called up Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla and Parvinder Awana in place of Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
“It is tough, but sometimes it’s a good position to be in,” Swann said of the hosts’ predicament. “If there’s only one possible result you can get, you can go all out fighting. The last Test of a series, if you know the result hangs on it, is normally a very exciting one.”
He added: “I’m sure India will come out fighting because they have to win the game. Equally so, I’m sure we’ll approach the game thinking attack is our best form of defence. I think that’s what has proved crucial in the last couple of games.”
Should England prevail, Swann believes it will be a vindication of the positive attitude with which they arrived here under new captain Cook two months ago and have sustained since. Even a 10-wicket defeat in the first Test did not deflect them from their purpose.
“After losing that game in Ahmedabad it’s very easy to get in that rut of losing games, travelling round losing another one, and you can’t wait to get home at the end of it rather than focus on winning the next game,” Swann said.
“There was a lot of focus and energy put towards (ensuring) that this tour was not going to be like that, whether it be from management or senior players talking in the room, it was made very clear that Mumbai was a chance to level the series. Anybody who didn’t see it that way wasn’t welcome in the dressing room.
“We have really tried to embrace India and embrace the series and believe we can win it and I’m not sure that has always been the case (previously). I have only been on one Test tour here before, but there certainly seemed more belief from the outset on this one.”
Should England end 2012 with victory in Asia, it will be a far cry from the way they started it with a 3-0 whitewash to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
“We have come a long way from the UAE obviously, because we’re in a situation now where we can win a series in Asia rather than looking at a humiliating whitewash,” Swann reflected.
“We will be going out on Thursday morning trying to win the series and then we’ll let people write how good a year or how a bad year it’s been accordingly. If we win the game it will obviously be a lovely way to round the year off, because it’s not been the smoothest year we have had in Test cricket.”