Swann eyes swinging summer party
England off-spinner Graeme Swann is hoping for seamer-friendly conditions this summer - even though it would make his job that much harder.
Swann has spent the majority of his cricketing career in England, defying weather and surfaces which have traditionally favoured swing and seam to become the second best bowler in the world.
The International Cricket Council Test rankings tally with the thoughts of those who regard him as central to the potency of England’s attack.
Having recently returned from England’s World Cup campaign on the sub-continent, where spin is the common currency, Swann could have been forgiven a wistful sigh upon first sight of a Trent Bridge wicket that could be euphemistically described as tinged with green.
Early season it may be, but he insists he would gladly accept pitches like that for the rest of the summer, a scenario which would aid the England team.
“I'd prefer it swinging,” he said. “Whenever you play a Test match you’ve got three or four seam bowlers and one spinner, so I’d rather it swing around corners for them and I’ll just pick up wickets where I can, rather than have the expectation of taking 20 wickets myself. It's a lot easier life for me.
“I’m excited because I think it’s going to swing this summer, and in our conditions we have the bowling attack that can beat any team in the world.”
Swann points to the 2-1 Test series triumph over Pakistan last season, which followed victory over Bangladesh in conditions similarly helpful for the quicker bowlers, as the reasoning behind his logic.
“The Pakistan series last year was ideal because it swung all over the place and Jimmy (Anderson) and Stevie Finn bowled out of their skin," he added.
“A few wickets turned later on, so I was able to pick up a few wickets. That would be the ideal summer again.
“We’re playing India and Sri Lanka this year. They’re used to playing on dry, spinning wickets and they’re not so good against high-quality swing bowling.”
Swann is enjoying what he calls a “well-earned break” from playing following a winter which encompassed Ashes and World Cup assignments.
Although he admits he is “itching to get back on the field”, he knows the importance of rest given the hectic international schedule - and again casts his mind back over the last 12 months for proof that England’s increasingly prevalent rotation policy is reaping dividends.
“Last year I was left out of the one-day series against Bangladesh,” Swann added. “At the time I didn’t really know why but it worked perfectly.
“Throughout the summer I felt fresh; otherwise we could have been flogged.
“(Team director) Andy Flower is very big on trying to maintain the squad throughout the year. It works with a lot of players.
“There’s a big picture to it; I can see the benefit of having this break. This is the calm before the storm.”
Swann is scheduled to return to domestic action with Nottinghamshire on May 10, the first of two LV= County Championship games he will play ahead of the opening npower Test of the summer against Sri Lanka at Cardiff starting on May 26.
His attempts to rest at home have been undermined somewhat by newly-acquired fatherhood duties - son Wilfred was born just before the World Cup, and even washing his kit has been put on the back-burner.
“It has been great not having to take your cricket kit out of the bag - my socks will be dissolving their way out soon,” Swann said.
He has, though, managed to keep abreast of the domestic action from around the country during the first round of matches, when Notts did not play.
“Once the county season started on Friday I found myself flicking through text, through all the scores, like I did when I was a 19-year-old,” he said.
“To get two games for Notts is great. Some of my best mates play at Notts and it’s very much a case of this is my club - I was as proud as anyone when we won the championship last year.
“Me and Stuart Broad were in a hotel in London screaming and shouting down the corridor when Siddy (Ryan Sidebottom) and Andre (Adams) took those wickets at Lancashire.
“If in the few times we play we can have an effect and help us win the championship, then that would be brilliant.”