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Swann still living in wonderment

ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010

Graeme Swann, Craig Kieswetter & Stuart Broad

Graeme Swann gets up to speed with the markets in the City yesterday, in a year his fortunes have continued to rise sharply

England’s new cricketer of the year Graeme Swann is still pinching himself as he continues in the “dream job” he once feared would elude him forever.

Swann was rewarded for a stellar 12 months for his country when he was named the ECB’s Men’s Cricketer of the Year at an awards ceremony in the Long Room at Lord’s tonight.

The 31-year-old off-spinner completed a hectic and high-profile list of engagements today, which also included a Downing Street reception for Paul Collingwood’s ICC World Twenty20-winning squad.

Swann recalled the past 12 months of achievement - including last summer’s Ashes victory - for England and himself.

“I know I’ve had a decent year in all three forms of the game,” he said.

“But when you look at the list of players we’ve got and how well some of them have done, you actually take a step back and realise how good a year it’s been for me.”

Swann won the award ahead of fellow nominees, Test captain Andrew Strauss, Collingwood and pace bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

“If you’d told me this three years ago, I’d have laughed at you and said ‘there’s no chance’. It’s a nice bit of cherry on the cake,” he said.

“I’m just enjoying every game, going in and thinking ‘this is going to be brilliant fun’ - doing the job I always dreamed of but that almost never happened.”

Swann, who has taken 99 wickets in 45 appearances across all formats for England, was first identified as a prospective international talent when he toured South Africa as a 20-year-old in 1999-2000.

Yet he had to wait another eight years, and for a change in the England management regime, before he was back in the reckoning - having switched in the meantime from his native Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire, whom he helped win the County Championship title in 2005.

Graeme Swann & England

Swann was a constant threat to South Africa on traditionally unhelpful pitches, especially in England's superb win at Durban

Reflecting on his award, and his appointment with new Prime Minister David Cameron this afternoon, Swann delved into his signature brand of self-effacing irony.

“One of the perks of playing for England, doing well - especially winning World Cups - I expect the ticker-tape parade and meeting the Prime Minister,” he smiled.

“I’m waiting for my audience with The Queen, but I’m not sure that one’s going to come just yet...”

Asked about any previous visits to Downing Street, he reported: “I’ve driven past it once or twice, or as close as you can get to it.

“It’s a building full of history, with great leaders - so it’s nice to get in there and steal some design tips!”

Broad lost out narrowly on the award voted for by the British media, but generously endorsed his international and county team-mate as a deserving winner.

“He’s had a fantastic year for us,” he said. “He’s consistently performed in every format of the game, and I’m delighted for him.
“He has contributed so much to a very successful year for the England team, and thoroughly deserves the award. Good on him.”

Like Broad, Swann played a key role in the 2009 Ashes victory - claiming eight wickets in the decisive fifth Test at the Brit Oval - before earning man-of-the-series honours in the Test tours of South Africa and Bangladesh.

He was also a part of the team that won England’s first ICC global tournament, at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean this month.

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