Swann prepared for hard graft
Graeme Swann is ready to bowl the marathon match-winning spells England may need from him if they are to get the better of Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Swann mustered two wickets, to his spin partner Monty Panesar’s eight, in England’s final warm-up victory over a Pakistan Cricket Board XI which concluded yesterday.
But this morning he reported himself “100%” fit after the scan on a sore thigh which had cleared him to play in England’s 100-run success against the PCB XI.
Swann has bowled 70 overs on this 12-day-old tour already, and is expecting many more in three Tests against Pakistan - with four one-day internationals and three Twenty20s to follow.
“The ball does spin - especially on a six-day old pitch yesterday.” he said.
“I should be getting a lot of work out here. It’s obviously hot, and the seamers can’t do the job they do in England - because it’s just not the same conditions.
“I’m looking forward to doing a lot of bowling and, I hope, winning the games for England.”
Swann is also encouraged that England stuck to their intention in their warm-up programme by putting the chance of victory ahead of the possibility of extra time in the middle for all batsmen.
That meant that yesterday they duly declared in time to take all 10 PCB XI wickets in two sessions, and chalk up a second successive win.
“It would have been very easy yesterday to treat that as batting practice and let some of the guys get some time in the middle," he said.
“But the whole remit of the team is to be ruthless and win every game we can.
“We were very happy that we managed to do that.”
As for his minor injury niggle, he added: “I was a bit nervous going into the last warm-up game. But I managed to get through and felt great by the end of the game. So touch wood I’ll be 100% fit for the first Test.”
Swann admits he is excited at the prospect of possibly being partnered again in international cricket by his former county team-mate Panesar, and senses England might change their trusted formula of three seamers and himself to accommodate an extra slow bowler in these alien conditions.
He said: “I’m hoping there’s a very good chance. I love Monty, going back to our Northampton days when we used to bowl together.
“I’d love to see two spinners playing. I love the way the game flows with a spinner at both ends and men round the bat.
“From a personal point of view, I’d love to see Monty back - because obviously he’s bowling very well. He bowled superbly this week - and let’s face it, everyone loves Monty don’t they?
“My message is always that I’d like two spinners. But the reason I’m not given any responsibility in selecting teams is because I wouldn’t be very good at it.”
Swann has noticed a new maturity in Panesar, at the age of 29, on and off the field since he last played a Test two-and-a-half-years ago.
“Monty’s a great bowler. He had a superb season at Sussex, and the pressure was on him to do well down there - and he delivered," he added.
“He’s a fine bowler, and it’s great to see him back in form. I certainly think off the field, as a person, he’s just grown up. He is maturing, as everyone does.
“A lot happened to Monty at a fairly young age, and I think he’ll be the first to admit that he was fairly wet behind the ears.
“He’s had a few more worldly experiences. He’s got married; he’s moved counties; he’s done the overseas thing - and all of them have been positive.
“I think it’s shown in his bowling. He’s back to his best.”
As for Pakistan’s main spin hope Saeed Ajmal, Swann expects him too to be a major player this winter.
But like England’s batting coach Graham Gooch last week, he has expressed doubts over whether Ajmal really has unearthed a new mystery delivery with which to taunt opponents.
“He’s a very fine bowler, and a nice lad as well. I spoke to him yesterday, and we had a laugh about his so-called mystery delivery," he said.
“It’s nice that he’s hoodwinked a few people and they’re all looking for it.
“We had a good giggle about it. I said I can’t believe he’s only thought of one mystery ball - because I’ve got two or three up my sleeve!”