Swann ready to turn the screw
England will set out to “absolutely hammer” New Zealand tomorrow, even though they do not need to do so to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals.
Graeme Swann, one half of the spin duo which has served England so well in the Caribbean, is so enthused by their success in the Super Eights that he will not hear of them letting up against the Kiwis.
Even in the absence of Kevin Pietersen - in England for the birth of his first child but still expected back in St Lucia for a last-four match on Thursday or Friday - Swann believes more swashbuckling cricket is in order.
Should South Africa lose their final Group E match against Pakistan at the Beausejour Stadium early tomorrow, England will already be through before their match starts at the same stadium.
But after their 39-run thumping of South Africa in Barbados yesterday, Swann made it clear England will be going all out for another convincing win.
“We’ve had to try and work it out, and it seems like we’ve got one foot in the door (of the semi-finals). But that’s all it is,” he said.
“We need to go and absolutely hammer New Zealand. That’s what we want to do, smash every team we play, by playing this same brand of cricket.
“It’s exciting to be a part of. I enjoyed our batting (against South Africa) more than any Twenty20 game I’ve played in. 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.
“I genuinely think, for the first time looking at an England team, we can actually win this. It’s not all hot air and bluster.”
The triumph against South Africa was particularly heartening to Swann, who was mightily impressed by Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter’s 94-run second-wicket stand.
He added: “There was a certain amount of pressure going into the game, against a very good sid in South Africa. But the way KP and Kiesy batted was just ridiculous, the shots they were playing.
“They had a little bit of luck here and there, but were fully committed to every shot; then to see Colly [captain Paul Collingwood] walk out and do the same, go out and just smash a couple of sixes off one of the fastest bowlers in the world, everyone gets excited by that.”
Swann believes England have demonstrated to all their potential opponents that they have significant capabilities in the shortest format.
“Coming into the Super Eights, we knew we needed to make a statement in our first couple of games,” he said.
“I think against Pakistan (in the first Super Eight match) we did that, but more so (against South Africa). I believe we were exceptional.”
Swann and fellow finger spinner Michael Yardy shared five top-order wickets as South Africa fell well short - and he is delighted with their pairing.
“I’ve always been an advocate of at least two spinners in Twenty20 cricket.
"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’s style is not classical left-arm spin, but Swann joked: “We can’t all be as gorgeous as me when we play the game.
“Some people have that levelled at them, that they’re not pretty cricketers. I don’t think he’d argue with you.”
The contrast in method between England’s two spinners is of great value. Swann confirmed: “The fact he’s left-arm, spinning the ball the other way (to me) makes a huge difference.
“If you’ve got two guys spinning the ball the same way it can be very effective, but batsmen can get set.
“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.”