Swann wants return to winning ways
Graeme Swann is desperate for England to take their winter frustrations in the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka out on West Indies.
Andrew Strauss’ tourists fell short of their own expectations and their hard-fought number one Test billing during awkward expeditions, which resulted in a 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the UAE and then a 1-1 draw with Sri Lanka.
Swann is not inclined to deny the collective shortcomings against spin - especially Saeed Ajmal in Dubai and Abu Dhabi - but neither does the 33-year-old depict the off-colour winter as symptomatic of deep-seated problems.
Instead, Swann - whose 10-wicket match haul in Colombo ensured the campaign finished on a high - believes 2011-12 was simply a matter of missed opportunities, and that this summer presents a perfect chance to restate England’s case as the world’s best.
They will begin that task in a three-match Investec series against West Indies, beginning at Lord’s on May 17, and hope to complete it in a second three-Test assignment with South Africa - their closest pursuers in the International Cricket Council table.
Swann said: “There was a general sense of frustration over how we played in the winter.
“I believe we should have won the Test series against Pakistan - we should have won the last two Tests - and we should have been in position to win the series in Colombo as well.
“It is very frustrating. Having fought to get to number one in the world, we could not maintain our performances in the winter.
“Obviously we struggled against spin in those conditions. But the way KP [Kevin Pietersen] went out and batted (in Colombo) showed how it should be done.”
So to West Indies, and the challenge which can be mustered by a developing team still to conclude their home series against Australia yet due in England next week.
“They are always a bit mercurial. You never know what you’re going to get,” said Swann.
“They have one of the best fast bowlers in the world in Kemar Roach. I always enjoy playing against the West Indies. I think it is going to be a great series.”
Swann senses too that he will be on the winning side again - partly because of conditions likely to play into England’s hands, if not necessarily his own.
“The great thing for us is the time of the year we are playing, which should suit our bowlers,” he said. “We’ve shown we can be lethal, with our seam attack, at the start of the summer.”
The rains of the past two weeks have dampened the enthusiasm of many a hapless batsmen, and plenty of a slow-bowling ilk as well. But Swann is happy to play the long game, with a resurgent team.
“It might mean I might have to be fairly patient, and pick up some scraps here and there,” he added. “But as long as we’re bowling teams out cheaply, that’s fine by me anyway.”