Swann happy to take a back seat
Graeme Swann will be delighted with another James Anderson “benefit” as England hope for a repeat victory over Pakistan in the second npower Test at Edgbaston.
Swann, England’s cricketer of the year and such a rich source of wickets in all conditions over the past year, was required to bowl just two overs at Trent Bridge, where Anderson took a career-best 11-71 to help bowl the hapless tourists out twice.
After a short trip across the midlands, more swing-friendly cloud cover features prominently in an uncertain forecast this week, and, apart from a couple of wickets for himself, Swann’s wishlist is broadly a repeat of the 354-run win in Nottingham.
Anderson’s devastating bowling did not surprise Swann in the least, given the conditions which prevailed and the skills he has to exploit them.
“Jimmy was exceptional, but I kind of expected him to be because I knew it was going to swing at Trent Bridge and I knew he was in good nick,” Swann said.
“It was almost inevitable that he would bowl as well as he did. He loves that place.”
There was no shock either for Swann that captain Andrew Strauss used him so sparingly on his home ground.
“Actually, it’s not that strange for me to stand at Trent Bridge and not do much bowling because I do that for Notts a lot of the time,” he added.
“It was kind of novel, but kind of nice. I said to Straussy on the last morning, ‘In an ideal world I won’t even have to get warmed up today because that means we are taking wickets’. And so it was.
“It was nice just to have the best view in the house, just sit on an armchair at slip and watch it. If I get a couple of wickets (this time), I’ll be perfectly happy.”
Swann is overlooking the fact that he did contribute four catches at gully and in the slips, as well as 30 runs.
But he can handle a little spell out of the limelight with the ball as long as it means a decent rest too.
“Whenever I go into a game, you always expect the worst,” he added.
“When I say the worst, I mean expect to bowl 30 overs in an innings and really feel it afterwards.
“But if this game went exactly the same as the other one, it wouldn’t bother me much because it means we’re 2-0 up.
“I’m not saying that all phoney, like, ‘As long as the team wins, I’m happy’. I am inherently lazy so if I didn’t have to do anything for three and a half days apart from watching my mates do the work, so be it.”
England have long made a virtue of their team ethos under Strauss and team director Andy Flower, and Swann feels it is a major asset to have match-winning performances coming from different quarters.
“It makes you a lot harder team to beat if people are in form at different times, because the one thing you can predict is that you will never roll over and die,” he said.
Pakistan, by contrast, are scouring their ranks for heroes and have had to cast their eye several thousand miles eastwards to summon veteran batsman Mohammad Yousuf.
After visa issues delayed his trip from Lahore, Yousuf is currently scheduled to arrive in Birmingham tomorrow lunchtime, raising the prospect of having to bat in tough conditions within 24 hours of a long-haul flight and without even the help of an outdoor net should more bad weather intervene.
“I wouldn’t like to do that,” said Swann. “It will be difficult for anyone to come in and face Jimmy the way he bowled at Trent Bridge but you never know - it might be a straight up-and-down pitch here, so it could be the perfect time to come in with a clear head.”
That seems unlikely. Swann acknowledged Stuart Broad - whom he saw take a career-best 8-52 for Nottinghamshire on the ground two weeks ago - and Steven Finn, as well as Anderson, are likely to make life tough for the tourists again.
“That was the most I’ve seen Broady swing it,” he said. “He cut back on his pace slightly and bowled superbly here for Notts.
“If conditions suit, in England we are a very good bowling attack. If the rain and clouds stay around for five days I can’t see why we won’t be equally hard to bat against.”
Swann also confessed surprise at Pakistan's decision to send leg-spinner Danish Kaneria back to county cricket with Essex, following his match return of 1-171 last week. He has been replaced by teenage slow left-armer Raza Hasan.
"He has a lot of sympathy from me," Swann said of Kaneria. "I don't think he bowled that badly.
"But it's good for us because he's one of the world-class performers within that team.
"If he is surplus to requirements and they are going to bring someone else in, not having had three Tests under his belt in England, that works in our favour.
"I was a little bit surprised by the whole thing. It's not for us to comment on how other teams handle their affairs but from the spinners' union point of view it's harsh."