Swann eyes Australia showdown
Graeme Swann is dreaming of facing Australia in the final of the Champions Trophy - a competition England now believe they can win.
Victories over Group B favourites South Africa and Sri Lanka made last night’s match against New Zealand, which Andrew Strauss’ team lost by four wickets, largely academic.
England will now face Australia or Pakistan in the first semi-final at Centurion on Friday, harbouring serious ambitions of glory.
“It’s a strong belief,” Swann said. “Coming into this (tournament), I don’t think anyone had realistic ambitions of us winning but the first two games proved we can and has strengthened belief.
“We don’t make the tournament predictions. We knew if we turned up and played decent cricket for two games we would get into the semi-finals and that is what we have done.”
Australia thumped England 6-1 in the recent NatWest Series at the end of the English summer but Swann claimed a five-wicket haul as a whitewash was averted in the campaign finale at the Riverside.
If England are in the opposite semi-final to Australia, which can happen if Ricky Ponting’s side fail to beat Pakistan and India do not defeat West Indies in the final Group A games today, the prospect of a clash in the final would be tantalising.
“We are on the up against Australia. The last time we played them we hammered them!” Swann joked. “I would love to face Australia in the final - it’s the old enemy and everyone seems to get more interested in those games.”
New Zealand triumphed at the Wanderers last night to join England in the last four, making use of the bowler-friendly conditions in mid-afternoon.
“We showed some good fighting spirit in the end to get them six wickets down but 146 was never going to be enough,” Swann reflected. “It was one of those tosses that had we won it, we would have won the game. That’s cricket.”
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior has missed the last two games with a virus but is expected to return to training tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Stuart Broad, who claimed four wickets against the Black Caps, felt soreness in his left buttock during the game. He will have treatment today and faces a scan tomorrow morning.