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Swann's character shines through

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Ben Dirs | 17:38 UK time, Thursday, 19 August 2010

One of the more irritating aspects of Australia's dominance over England in the 1990s and much of the 2000s was the fact that, as well as being superior cricketers, the Aussies rather dwarfed their arch rivals in the personality stakes.

There was Matthew Hayden with his recipe books and charity work, Justin Langer with his black belt in Zen Do Kai, self-help books and charity work, Steve Waugh with his photography books and charity work - and then there was Shane Warne, who did plenty of charity work between producing a few dozen books-worth of off-field controversy.

Then, when they'd had their fill of thrashing the old enemy, they'd turn up periodically on Test Match Special and reveal that, contrary to what most Englishmen thought, they were actually rather convivial chaps and, most irritatingly of all, thoroughly good blokes.

The importance of personality - or charisma, or substance, or whatever you want to call it - occurred to me when I asked Phil Tufnell what it was that made Graeme Swann, who took his 100th Test wicket on day two of the third Test against Pakistan on Thursday, so special.

"He takes wickets, he takes catches, he smacks it around down the order," said Tufnell, becoming ever more animated, before adding: "And he brings character."

Tufnell as a player was proof of that old adage, made famous by 'The Wolf' in Pulp Fiction, that "just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character." A fine performer on his day, the Australians, fans included, knew that, where 'The Cat' was concerned, a spot of 'mental disintegration' could go a long way.

But Swann, who reached his latest milestone in 23 Tests - the same as Warne and Glenn McGrath and 'Deadly' Derek Underwood, perhaps England's greatest modern-day spinner - has blossomed into one of those players who is able to bring his off-field spirit onto the field of play.

Lead singer of a covers band, Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations (available for weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs in the Nottinghamshire area), Swann is also an engaging interviewee with a nice line in repartee - witness his putdown of team-mate Kevin Pietersen in a recent Twitter exchange: "Such a shame my teammates are so remedial in their 'banter'. Must be because they're all South African."

Graeme SwannGraeme Swann is not one to hide his emotions

Tufnell, who toured South Africa with Swann in 1999-2000, puts his old drinking buddy's growth as a person and a bowler down to the years Swann spent in international exile: considered by England coach Duncan Fletcher to be "immature", both as a person and a bowler, but mature enough to get his nose to the grindstone and graft his way back to the top.

"In many ways he's an old-school cricketer," said Tufnell. "He's done the hard yards in county cricket, served his apprenticeship, developed the variations - tossing it up, mixing up the pace, moving around the crease, he's a good, thinking spin bowler.

"If he's not the best spin bowler in the world at the moment he'd have to be close. He's a huge part of the England attack, a real 'go-to' guy for Andrew Strauss. He can be relied upon to hold up an end so the seamers can rotate and also to take wickets."

Tufnell also suggested Swann's happy knack of taking wickets in the first over of spells - he managed the feat twice again on Thursday - could be down to batsmen playing the man rather than the delivery, perhaps the surest sign of a bowler bringing his charisma to bear.

Personality - or charisma, or substance, or whatever you want to call it - has been sorely lacking from many of England's players on Ashes tours since England last won down under in 1986-87, and to that end Tufnell believes Swann will be a key figure this winter.

"He'll be massive to England," said Tufnell, who toured Australia twice. "Finger spinners don't usually have a huge impact because of the Kookaburra ball and because the wickets are flat.

"But the Aussies will be fearing him more than he fears them, and they have a lot of left-handers, who he bowls well to. They'll target him, which is the height of respect, and which could also play into Swanny's hands."

The look on Steve Finn's face as Mohammad Yousuf glided him through third man for a second successive four said it all: "Aaah, so this is what proper Test cricket is all about."

On Wednesday, a well-respected Pakistani journalist had told us that Yousuf was "mentally shot to bits", before adding: "Don't expect him to make more than 30." Yousuf ended up making a classy 56.

It is to England's benefit that Yousuf proved our Pakistani journalist friend wrong - feeling his way into his innings before finding his touch and unfurling an array of trademark strokes, it was certainly what proper Test batting was all about. Stick it in the memory bank, Finny, there'll be plenty more of that this winter.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bendirs1

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Alot better than the hugely overrated Vetorri.

  • Comment number 2.

    Can't really add too much more to Tuffers comments. Seeing a professional sportsman enjoy what they do for a living always endears them to the public. There's certainly too much moping when it comes to top level international sportsmen (although I do appreciate the pressure to perform is very high). Characters like Warney, Swann, Jimmy Bullard and such like are too far and few between for my liking, maybe KP and Cooky might take a leaf out of their book and relax a little bit.

    On the mechanical side of things, Swann does seem to be one of the few finger spinners who can get a decent amount of turn on any surface. I think he'll do very well down under.

  • Comment number 3.

    Exactly what are these 'positives' that sportsmen and women seem always to be taking? Do they come in bottles or tubes, or are they injected? And are they legal?

  • Comment number 4.

    i think its rather harsh to say england are facing an uphill task to save the test match, if there is good weather tomorrow and england apply themselves properly then runs will still be on offer pitch is still decent, just conditions have helped the bowlers. with 3 days left though england will need to bat well for 4-5 sessions though

  • Comment number 5.

    I think this game is very much in the balance cause if England get around 270+ this will be quite a contest. I dont think England will get that many but i see this match being really close and dependent on how Pakistan field. If they hold their catches then I cant see England pulling this off. But you never know.

    Concerning the ashes, I really am worried about the English batting. They seem really lazy and almost unconcerned by whats going on and almost all of them take their place in the team for granted. There have got to be people knocking on the door to make sure that you cant play 6-7 tests and not get one score and still be in the team. If you look at the english batting order. Strauss isnt in the best of form, Cook couldnt bat against a lowly bangladesh. KP has had one score where he had enough chances to bat like 5 times. Morgan and Trott are new and inexperienced at international level and Morgan in particular does not have the most compact of techniques. Collingwood is doing ok and is good in pressure situations. For me Matt Prior is the unsung hero. Without him england would lack balance. The bowlers overall are quite a good unit but are yet to be tested this summer really. The fast bowlers are all good in English conditions, yet to see how they perform abroad. But they definately have skill, talent and alot of heart. With due respect to Swann, I dont think he is that great a bowler. He is accurate and varies his pace and length well. However he doesnt have that many variations and I would love to see him play in Sri-Lanka or India where the batsman are more used to using their feet to play spin bowling. I can barely remember any pakistani batsman leaving his crease against him. Its surprising since Pakistan normally has always had good players of spin bowling. I am guessing they are young and still getting used to international cricket.

    England have a good side but need to iron out a few small problems and need some bench strength to push the current team as they are getting a bit too comfortable.

  • Comment number 6.

    The game hangs precariously in the balance.

    There is now a grand opportunity for the England batsmen, especially those who have been in poor form lately, to come to the fore tomorrow and the day after to rescue, not only their fledgling careers but, the match.

    Now is the moment for Alastair Cook to salvage his spot on the team. A ton will go along way to ensuring that, but another failure could very well spell the end of his Test ambitions.

    Kevin Pietersen, too, must step up to the plate and prove why the selectors continue to place faith in him. Like Cook, he has not done much with the bat in recent times and now would be the time to reverse that.

    Eoin Morgan, Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior will all have to put their heads down to deny Pakistan their first win of the tour.

    Much will depend on the weather. We hope it does not play a factor in the match.
    The morning session is crucial. If England can survive it unscathed, they can build on it in the afternoon and evening sessions to set up the foundation for a formidable second-inning score to keep the opposition at bay.

  • Comment number 7.

    Swann fully deserved to get 100 Wickets, he has been the main and key bowler for England for over the last 18 months and I expect him to continue to be main bowler in the future! He is key for England in the Ashes Down Under this winter

  • Comment number 8.

    It would be great to see the game wide open, and anyone's to win, going in to the 5th day. As said by others above ^^, England need to bat well tomorrow.

    It seems too long since we've seen a truly competitive Test Match this summer!! :-(

  • Comment number 9.

    Great from Swann. Wouldn't say that Pakistan are as clearly ahead as is made out. England get 225, set Pakistan 300 - would be no easy feat especially with their fragile batting line up.

  • Comment number 10.

    Swann is the best spinner in cricket at the moment followed closely by H Singh (India) and Mendis (Sri Lanka.) He is been exceeding impressive this year and it was great to see get his 100th wicket today.

    However I worry that he won't be as successful in The Ashes. Australian pitches never seem to suit English spinners (Giles) (Panesar.) He needs to make sure that her gets off to a good start and that he doesn't let his head drop.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 11.



    Mr Dirs:

    "Tufnell as a player was proof of that old adage, made famous by 'The Wolf' in Pulp Fiction, that "just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character." A fine performer on his day, the Australians, fans included, knew that, where 'The Cat' was concerned, a spot of 'mental disintegration' could go a long way."


    The Aussies might be held up as great mental disintegrators but in my opinion certain members of the England hierarchy and the way the England team operated did far more to break down players in the England team who were quirky. I can't imagine how the chubby Warne on his debut would have fared had his skipper been Gooch in the fitness-obsessed days. Pietersen under Ray Illingworth's command... absolutely laugh-a-minute.

    Under Duncan Fletcher, we had a change. People with character and talent who weren't great with fitness were worked hard to improve but not at the expense of losing their individuality. The patient way Flintoff was handled is a case in point. When Michael Vaughan became captain, then one of the most important elements came to the fore, and that was Vaughan's understanding of bowlers and how to get the best from them. The days of Ted Dexter griping over designer stubble finally gave way to something far better, and the results spoke for themselves.

    Fletcher was right about Swann, who then went away and grew into being a player whose performances matched his confidence. All the people bemoaning the lack of Adil Rashid in the ODI squad this summer should look at how Swann reacted to being dropped. If Rashid can do the same and work hard on his game at county level in the next few years, we could end up with potentially England's most exciting spin bowling duo for years. Swann at one end, Rashid at the other, on a dust bowl in India would be fantastic.

  • Comment number 12.

    I wouldn't say Panesar had a bad Ashes down under , he took wickets in Perth. It was just too late by that point, the advantage had already gone.
    The whole tour was a disaster - Flintoff really should never have been Captain, and Fletchers desire to keep with his winning team despite a raft of injuries got in the way - Giles was only just fit enough to travel in the party but got first dibs says much about the thinking of the team at the time. Swan will do OK , Anderson and Broad I'm worried about - Finn might really "Flower" out there (ho ho ) Shazad looks promising too .

  • Comment number 13.

    England will very likely encounter this situation in Australia in the winter so it will be interesting to see how they do tommorow morning, but i can see it easily being 20-3 with nightwatchman Anderson and then Cook being out quickly, i have more confidence in Anderson batting longer than Cook at the moment

  • Comment number 14.

    phil tufnell tells ben dirs about his mate whose cousin says that he heard swan is good at cricket

  • Comment number 15.

    The one thing Flower really needs to worry about... The Batting Line Up.

    Strauss- He continues to be baffled by left arm bowlers. He has not made a big score in a test match for a while and was dismissed for four this afternoon.

    Cook- The stats say it all. He desperately needs that lucky break.

    Trott- He may be frustrating to watch but it has to be said he does get runs.

    Pietersen- The luckiest 80 in the history of cricket is all KP has done this summer. For a 'World Beater' that is very poor.

    Collingwood- Mr. Reliable. A very calm resilient player. Always seems to be there when England really need him. It might have been a while ago but he also had a fantastic tour in South Africa.

    Morgan- Silenced his critics with a stunning century. He might still be a bit inexperienced though. He made a few mistakes in the field today which also makes me doubt his focus.

    Prior- Very consistent. He is great to watch when he is going at it. He has also improved as a wicket-keeper.

    I think we should drop Cook and let Strauss and Trott open. When Trott opened for England against South Africa last winter he made an impressive 87 against The Pace and Swing of Steyn and Mourkel. He also seems to bat well with Strauss. An example of this was when they shared a second-wicket stand of 250 against Bangaladesh.

    Also when Bell is fit again he should walk back in to the team. Its a shame he missed this series. He has a brilliant record against Pakistan.... 4 centuries and 2 50's in 7 matches.

  • Comment number 16.

    I must say I admire the general optimism about England's chances. Here we are with England's second innings already going the same way as the first, yet people think we could WIN this Test. Perhaps I'm too much of a pessimist (or realist ?)

  • Comment number 17.

    the ashes this winter will feature two decent seam / pace attacks and its hard to split them. equally the batting of both sides is not much better than decent. it could be swanny's winter. i reckon he will love the pressure and focus that an ashes tour brings and will be our first bowler since darren gough to really rattle the aussies in their own back yard.

  • Comment number 18.

    I have little doubt that Swann will live up to his early promise. He has at least 5 more years to fulfill it. He may well show that comparisons with great bowlers of the past like Underwood and Warne, who reached the similar milestone of 100 wickets in their 23rd Test, are no premature and overenthusiastic attempts to associate unearned glory with a blossoming career.

    As they say spinners mature late, Swanny has all the makings of a great bowler who is fast improving with experience. At times he bolsters his match winning potential as a late order batsman too. I think we are going to hear much more of him as an all round quantity in the game.

  • Comment number 19.

    Swann is, like so many English cricketers before him, a journeyman. Plucky and brave, but doomed to fail except on the odd occasion where the opposition massively under-estimate him and he manages to get the rub of the green.

    If Swann is the secret to English success in the Ashes then 5-0 to the Aussies is looking pretty bang-on.

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh, and classic delusional English adulation from Sevenseaman above - "great bowlers of the past like Underwood and Warne"??????? Underwood???? You are joking, of course!!

    That's like saying "great tennis players of all time like Tim Henman and Roger Federer".

  • Comment number 21.

    3. dudepod45:

    "Exactly what are these 'positives' that sportsmen and women seem always to be taking? Do they come in bottles or tubes, or are they injected? And are they legal?"
    ______________________________________

    I believe the 'positives' are taken in pill form or injected. You can test sportsmen and women who've taken said 'positives' as they generally return a positive test.

  • Comment number 22.

    If England manage to avoid a whitewash then they can hugely pleased with themselves.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ kiwiandproud
    If you read it right I was referring to bowlers who reached the similar milestone of 100 wickets in 23 Tests- no reflection on their varying degrees of greatness. Swann may shine like Underwood or go much higher like Warne, I do not think we need to nitpick the obvious difference in respective stature.

  • Comment number 24.

    great news for swann on reaching the milestone, he can go and have some beers to celebrate then go cat saving. the man has lost any respect people had for him

  • Comment number 25.

    The only thing between England and Pakistan this series (although it's a big thing lol) is that Pakistan haven't previously been able to hold a catch to save themselves.

    Both teams have fragile batting line ups and excellent bowling attacks. Pakistan have the better seam bowlers but Swann evens it out.

    Thank God Pakistan finally seem to have done some fielding practise, made some intelligent subs and now we've got a game worth watching. England have been flattered in the previous two tests of this series much more than deserved by the clumsiness of the Pakistanis.

    Good luck to both! Finally, a test that looks like turning into an actual TEST of both and not just of the Pakistani fielding coach's blood pressure (they do have one, don't they? lol).

    ;)

  • Comment number 26.

    Concerning the ashes, I really am worried about the English batting. They seem really lazy and almost unconcerned by whats going on and almost all of them take their place in the team for granted.
    --------------
    What an idiotic comment.

    How exactly do they look lazy, unconcerned and taking things for granted?

    Personally I think it's the complete opposite. KP and Cook especially look anguished and nervous at the crease and in interviews




    The fast bowlers are all good in English conditions, yet to see how they perform abroad.
    --------------------
    More stupidity. They perfromed pretty well in South Africa did they not? Or doesn't that count?

  • Comment number 27.

    well all i can say is that he's a good bowler and looks like tuking in mushtaq as a coach has really helped him and on current form i'll say you can call him the best in the world.

    skill wise i'll rate 1> A. Mendis, 2> D. Kaneria, 3> G. Swann, 4> D. Vetorri and 5> H. Singh

    mendis seems lost the guy has so many variations but tries to do too many thing.

    Kaneria has the variations but is inconsistent and arrogant so doesn't learn his lessons.

    Swann well one will have to say that he has not been really tested as yet. australians don't paly offspinners well with exception of murli, and swann hasn't played against asians( well can consider his performance against current paki batting order)

    Vetorri is just decent bowler and highly highly orver rated. the kiwi's always say he is a very wise guy i wonder what has he done that proves it as he is not the only person in the world who study pharmacy .

    Harbhajan hahaha well what can you say can only roar to an extent when in his mothers belly. now i know how jolly murli is when he said that this sikh will break his record

  • Comment number 28.

    So after all the talk of England Superiority over Pakistan, it just comes down to which side can hold their catches! Perhaps England and the journos will start concentrating on this series instead of endlessly wittling on about the Ashes. At this rate we will only play two series every 4 years against the Aussies as no other one is "important".

  • Comment number 29.

    Swann will get found out in Oz, and will go back to being what he is, a county player. Likewise Finn. Everyone knows Anderson can't do it abroad so our bowling attack is woefully inept.

    Batting wise, Cook & Morgan need to be dropped ASAP, make KP skipper as Strauss just isn't doing enough to win games. Question marks also over Collingwood, doesn't score big when it matters.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Graeme Swann seeks positives..." I can hear him now:

    "Well....me!"

    Arrogant & over-rated. A real "character", just like Cork, Collingwood, Prior, etc....mouths to match size of egos.

    I've heard people comparing him to Underwood.
    That's like comparing Noel Gallagher to Hendrix.

  • Comment number 31.

    As for Swann I think the true meaure of the man is that he is accepted by all the cricket fraternity from old guard to Barmy Army. He is an impressive cricketer who has put the hard work in and is now reaping the rewards but realises that there is so much more for him to achieve.

    I was worried that England would go through the motions this summer but a spirited fightback from Pakistan has put the team under pressure. We are not so reliant on the 1XI there are others knocking on the door. There are a couple of weak links but any changes 'should Mr Flower choose to make them' will not upset the balance of the side for the Ashes.

    Captain Strauss will be dying to put to rest those who doubt his captaincy...

  • Comment number 32.

    9. At 10:23pm on 19 Aug 2010, johncarewcarew89 wrote:

    Great from Swann. Wouldn't say that Pakistan are as clearly ahead as is made out. England get 225, set Pakistan 300 - would be no easy feat especially with their fragile batting line up.

    ---

    I am totally confused by this comment, if England 'get 225', they would set Pakistank 151 to win, which I would fancy them to get comfortably.



    With regards Swann, it's really good to see a player develop. Fletcher didn't like him so he went away and came back better. He seems quite intelligent when on a cricket pitch and always learning. Contrast to Monty who appeared to play his 30th test exactly the same as he played his first, not improving at all.

    Our batting looks incredibly fragile. Cook seems really out of nick, as does KP, both are almost walking wickets. Strauss is frustrating as he always looks in good touch but can't seem to get a big score, I believe he has 1 50 in 6 innings here (averaging 28) which is similar to Collywobble, who is only averaging 29. Prior really is holding the line-up together. As a previous poster mentioned it is a real shame that Bell isn't fit as he loves playing against Pakistan - though this is their best bowling attack since the days of Wasim and Waqar.

    I am dreading this winter, as it could be a complete capitulation unless we learn to bat. I think our bowlers will do well enough, however I can see a few collapses coming.

  • Comment number 33.

    milf 2 sugars....calling Swann a county player is a bit of an insult to somebody who just got 100 Test wickets in 23 games. I can't really imagine what further criteria is needed to qualify as a Test player. Or perhaps only true greats are "Test players" for you? He's clearly a qulaity Test player hence his position in the rankings.

    Pietersen as skipper?? Strauss not doing enought to win games?? Have a real think about that. We've been there, it didn't work and now we've settled on what has hitherto been a winning formula. Collingwood was one innings from losing his place (so when it really mattered to him), and guess what he did? Scored big. And Morgan's done little wrong but I do recognise that that opinion could be justifiably argued on the bais of experience etc but I'd personally keep him. The rest of your statements are simply not justifiable.

  • Comment number 34.

    hacker jack


    "The fast bowlers are all good in English conditions, yet to see how they perform abroad.
    --------------------
    More stupidity. They perfromed pretty well in South Africa did they not? Or doesn't that count?"


    England took twenty wickets once in four matches, and nine of those were for Swann. And Swann took nearly half the wickets in the series. And all that in a country whose first choice spinner is Paul Harris.

    I'd say the fast bowlers didn't do very well at all.

  • Comment number 35.

    Jcb211.... Swann will get found out this winter, he has yet to prove himself in big matches. He is basically on a par with a lot of county players. Strauss is a poor captain who waits for things to happen rather than making it happen. Finn is awful just awful, and along with Anderson will be smashed to all parts in Oz.

    Name a game where Collingwood has won us a test? He is awful to watch, has very few shots to speak of & doesn't get runs consistently. So what part of what I am saying do you struggle with?

  • Comment number 36.

    "Name a game where Collingwood has won us a test?"

    I think you will find it is a team game, so not many games are won by won person. If England need to survive 25 overs with the last pair in, then Colly is your man, aas proved against South Africa recently.

  • Comment number 37.

    one person!

  • Comment number 38.

    Milf 2 sugars....Collingwood is such an important player for us not necessarily because of his winning runs (which of course he has scored with 10 centuries to his name and a lot of 50s too), but also because of his obstinacy at the crease. Cardiff Ashes Test in point - my favourite Collingwood innings ever. That's what he brings to the team. Combine that with his fielding prowess and experience for some of the younger guys and I think he's crucial to the team. I would like to see Hildreth pushing for his place, but I would still stay he's crucial to us Down Under.

    Unfair to lable Finn as awful - he's had a good start and can't be brushed aside due to conjecture over what might happen in Oz. Swann proved himself in South Africa with two five-wicket hauls.

    Strauss - I agree sometimes he can be reactive rather than pro-active but he has a good influence on the dressing room and the captaincy seems not to have affected his batting quite as badly as it did others.

    So I'm struggling with some of your assertions that I don't feel are fair.

  • Comment number 39.

    Morning all, how is everyone today? Thanks for all your chat...

    AndyPlowright - I wouldn't disagree with that at all, I think the selectors and the general 'scene' in the 1990s certainly didn't succeed in getting the best out of certain players. That said, I don't think it's any state secret that Tuffers could be, how should we put it, a litte bit 'flaky' at times and certainly contributed to his own problems - have a read of this old piece from former team-mate Gus Fraser

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/moody-and-not-so-magnificent-the-other-phil-tufnell-590757.html

    SJ_TheKing - Too true, you couldn't say any of the England batsmen are in any kind of nick at the moment, although they are playing against a very good seam attack in ideal seamers' conditions.

    kiwiandproud - "Swann is, like so many English cricketers before him, a journeyman. Plucky and brave, but doomed to fail except on the odd occasion." I think you missed something - he just took 100 wickets in 23 Tests. And what's the beef with Derek Underwood?! He took 297 wickets at 25 with six 10-wicket hauls.

    Milf_2_sugars - "Swann will get found out in Oz, and will go back to being what he is, a county player". Yeh, but he's not though is he - he's just taken 100 wickets in 23 Tests. A county player might be defined as someone who gets picked for England, doesn't do much in the games his given, and then goes back to the domestic game. I'm not sure how much more you want Swann to do.

    None Of The Above - "Arrogant & over-rated. A real "character", just like Cork, Collingwood, Prior, etc....mouths to match size of egos." You must surround yourself with very humble folk if you regard Collingwood as arrogant and egotistical. As for the Underwood comparison, what people forget is he spent a lot of his career playing on uncovered pitches, a luxury modern spinners never had.

  • Comment number 40.

    Swann gets poor batsmen out & tail Enders, which has bumped up his total. I remember Panesar being talked up as much as Swann... I hope Swann proves me wrong. But he won't.

    So the whole point of Collingwood is to draw a test match? And you're favourite innings is one where he couldn't see his job through & left it to 10 & 11 to finish it, after he played an awful shot brought about by his lack of ability. He is a disgrace to the game, and his fielding is average but no doubt you'll believe the hype...

  • Comment number 41.

  • Comment number 42.

    oops meant to write something there! Swann's dismissals by batting number is, in this order: 6, 3, 7, 8, 1, 4, 2, 5, 10, 11, 9. With 101 Test match scalps, to say loosely that he only gets poor batsmen out doesn't really wash.
    Collingwood is a disgrace to the game? Again, you seem to be launching into a statement that has no basis. I imagine you were saying that after his double-ton too.
    I'm not sure if you are an England fan (but you did say you hope Swann proves you wrong so I guess you are), but why don't you just get behind your team and then things might look up. We all want England to win, but calling Colly a disgrace doesn't get us anywhere. He's been a great player for us. Cronje was a disgrace to the game. Big difference.

  • Comment number 43.

    So 40 of his wickets are 9,10,11... Thanks for proving my point. Whilst we persist with limited (at best) players like Collingwood MBE, talent like Bopara, Key, Solanki will be ignored or have been ignored for years. Players who can WIN us games not bore us into draws. And maybe fans will turn up to watch.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think he is just a conventional off spinner, a typical finger spinner. I dint' think he is that extraordinary bowler. Whatever cricket he played till now is against a team like Deplited Aussies, Poor Windies, SA & NZ which are traditionally not good side of spin bowling. So, no surprise he did well aginst them. But the real test of his character will be aginst India, Srilanka & Full strength Pakistan side. Let's see how he performed against India next year (Bye the way he was there in the English side when India chased down 387 to win the match on the fifth day in Chennai which was a typical indian spinning wicket turning squre, so what he was playing his first test, then?). Again English meadia has this tendancy of making hype of all sort of ordinary things (For eg : Monty & Adil Rashid. Don't you think they are just an ordinary bowler, which can be found in abundance in Indial club cricket?). This can be applied to Anderson & Broad as well.

  • Comment number 45.

    Bopara had a chance and didn't take it, but I think certainly he has a future in Test cricket. Key I do feel for at times, as what he's done for Kent has been incredible. Once again, though, he did have a chance and didn't take it. But if we're looking for an opener to replace cook, I'm surprised his name isn't being bandied about with Carberry et al. I don't feel Solanki really merits anything more than being on the fringes of contention. The point is, these are fair opinions. To call Collingwood a disgrace to the game is not a fair opinion. He's been given the nod and has often performed, despite what you say, and there's no doubt about his application.

    We're going round in circles with Swann - I feel that he's taking a lot of Test wickets at a good strike rate and is a vital part of the team, especially when he holds one end up so well. You don't, and would prefer to see another spinner brought in I suppose.

    In terms of players winning matches for England - I personally feel Hildreth has done enough this season to warrant a call-up to the squad, and then hopefully get drafted in post-Ashes.

  • Comment number 46.

    At 12:25pm on 20 Aug 2010, rohit wrote:
    I think he [Swann] is just a conventional off spinner, a typical finger spinner. I dint' think he is that extraordinary bowler.......Again English meadia has this tendancy of making hype of all sort of ordinary things (For eg : Monty & Adil Rashid. Don't you think they are just an ordinary bowler, which can be found in abundance in Indial club cricket?). This can be applied to Anderson & Broad as well.
    --------
    If India has an abundance of these bowlers in their leagues, they should probably call them up to the team. Swann and Anderson are both ahead of Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh in the bowling rankings. Broad equals Harbhajan on points.

    I know rankings isn't the be all and end all but its a pretty good indicator of where bowlers are at the moment. I have faith in Englands bowling line-up, as I think its a varied and potent attack.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hildreth deserves a chance no question. But he won't get it as England is a closed shop, when a player us out form they leave him in until he scored runs (Cook this test & Collingwood MBE countless times). This then gets them another 10 tests!!

    I'll give up on the Swann argument, we clearly disagree but I'll claim victory.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    47. At 1:33pm on 20 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:
    Hildreth deserves a chance no question. But he won't get it as England is a closed shop, when a player us out form they leave him in until he scored runs (Cook this test & Collingwood MBE countless times). This then gets them another 10 tests!!

    I'll give up on the Swann argument, we clearly disagree but I'll claim victory.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    i have read with interest the argument you have been making against swann. you stated that 40 of his 100 wickets are of no 9, 10 and 11 batsmen. so then 60% of his wickets have been of top and middle order batsmen. considering that he is a spinner, and therefore doesnt usually bowl until after about 20-25 overs of pace, probably with 2 or 3 wickets down, then this is not so bad. also removing lower order batsmen is just as important for team success.

    Also much of your argument has stated as fact what is actually speculation...."swan WILL get found out in oz"......."i hope he proves me wrong but HE WONT".

    You are entitled to voice your opinion, as we all are, but to claim victory in this argument is as wrong as your opinion!

    I also believe that your assessment of finn is at best hasty.

    In fact there is not much about what youv posted this morning that, respectfully, i agree with. that does not make me right and you wrong of course, but i wonder how many people concur with your views. My guess is that it would not be that many.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mr Dirs:

    I wouldn't disagree that Tuffers contributed to his own downfall at times. I'm thinking of some of the selection issues such as Tuffers going to India as first choice spinner to India in 1993 and being unceremoniously dumped for the First Test and replaced by Ian Salisbury, a late call up. Tuffers needed careful handling and I don't think any of his Test captains knew how to handle him. However, it's one thing to find it hard to handle a loose cannon like Tufnell but what about people who were far more placid like Graeme Hick and Devon Malcolm? Hick is practically the polar opposite to Tufnell, no fear of chain smoking and hotel room destruction there, but still ended up isolated within the same team. The way Illingworth and Lever attacked Devon Malcolm's action and attitude would be a prime example. Illingworth infamously said big Dev had 'no cricketing brain'. It wouldn't take much of a leap of imagination to consider what Illingworth's thoughts would have been on Pietersen during some of his more kamikaze moments with the bat.

    The Fletcher era allowed for personality in the dressing room. The old idea that playing for England was all the inspiration you needed to go and play at your best was finally destroyed. When Vaughan became captain, the freedom to express yourself was a central point of the cricketing philosophy. Compare that to the days of Mickey Stewart or Illingworth. The Aussies didn't have to sledge us in those days: the hierarchy would do the sledging and disintegration themselves.

    Milf_2_sugars:

    Of the Test batsmen Swann has dismissed twice or more, I'd sort them into two groups:

    Batsmen:

    DS Smith
    MV Boucher
    S Chanderpaul
    SM Katich
    BP Nash
    MJ North
    JP Duminy
    Junaid Siddique
    Mushfiqur Rahim
    AG Prince
    Shakib Al Hasan
    Jahurul Islam
    G Gambhir
    CH Gayle
    MEK Hussey
    RR Sarwan
    HM Amla
    AB de Villiers
    Tamim Iqbal
    Abdur Razzak
    RO Hinds
    R Dravid

    Bowlers/lower order:

    Rubel Hossain
    SJ Benn
    JE Taylor
    M Morkel
    MG Johnson
    D Ramdin

    http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/20431.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=dis_dismissals;template=results;type=bowling;view=batsman_summary

    Hardly backs up your idea that Swann goes for poor batsmen and tailenders, but one presumes by your suggestion that Robert Key is England's saviour that I should take some of your opinions with a pinch of salt (or maybe 2 sugars, milf not included).

  • Comment number 51.

    Hardly a list of "Great" batsmen there.. Lack of Ponting, Tendulkar, G Smith or Kallis... So explain what point you're making? I never once stated he is the saviour, no need to put words in my mouth. But he is a far better player than Morgan, Collingwood MBE or Cook.

    As for being hasty on Finn, could someone tell me what he had shown to suggest he is test class?

  • Comment number 52.

    51. At 2:40pm on 20 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:
    Hardly a list of "Great" batsmen there.. Lack of Ponting, Tendulkar, G Smith or Kallis... So explain what point you're making? I never once stated he is the saviour, no need to put words in my mouth. But he is a far better player than Morgan, Collingwood MBE or Cook.

    As for being hasty on Finn, could someone tell me what he had shown to suggest he is test class?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    if you care to check the link kindly provided by AndyPlowright you will find that swann has actually dimissed every single one of the batsmen you have listed, plus others, e.g. vvs laxman and most recently mohammed yousuf.

    So in summary swann has dismissed all of the best batsmen currently playing the game that he has played against.

    As for finn, 7 matches Bowling Av 23.71, 5 wickets twice. the 1st spell of this series he made the batsmen play or play and miss at every single ball, since then he has bowled steadily, no really poor spells. id say for a young bowler, starting his test career, with plenty of improving to do, this is not a bad effort really.

  • Comment number 53.

    Finn has played against Bangladesh & the worst Pakistan side since... Well ever really. Ponting Clarke & co must be dreaming of facing him he can't even stand up on his follow through!

    Don't get me wrong Swann has done ok but isn't as good as the hype suggests & I predict he will drift out of test cricket once his loveable rouge act annoys people, and the wickets dry up.

  • Comment number 54.

    47. At 1:33pm on 20 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:
    Hildreth deserves a chance no question. But he won't get it as England is a closed shop, when a player us out form they leave him in until he scored runs (Cook this test & Collingwood MBE countless times). This then gets them another 10 tests!!

    I'll give up on the Swann argument, we clearly disagree but I'll claim victory.
    ------

    OK, you can claim it. You'll note that the selectors were vindicated in their selection of Cook - great ton for him. I'm glad to see a few others have weighed in on this argument in favour of Swann. I'm afraid none of us can be sure how deep each other's analysis of spin bowling is, so we are constrained in large part by statistics to argue with. The difficulty I have in understanding your point of view, is that the statistics support the notion that Swann is a quality, established Test player. Similarly, the statistics demonstrate that Finn has started well - you are right, it could all go wrong for him, but there is a dearth of evidence to suggest that it will. Just your conjecture. Which, given your analysis of the England cricket team, is based upon some cynical, negative outlook on British sport. No doubt you hate Andy Murray for his attitude (but criticised Tim Henman for not being a winner), believe in a conspiracy to make Lewis Hamilton F1 champion a couple of years ago, believe the 2003 Rugby Union side was boring as it relied on Jonny and the rolling maul, and I imagine your only solace this year was basking in the World Cup, where you found joy in reminding everyone that you had said all along we'd never do well!

  • Comment number 55.

    You can hardly blame finn for only bowling well against the only opposition he has had the opportunity to play against.

    And finally we can agree on something; if "the wickets dry up" for swann then of course there will come a time when he is dropped. As it is, he has taken 100 wickets in only 23 matches. i think that matches the records of some pretty decent spin bowlers. Long may that superb record continue.

  • Comment number 56.

    A spinner rated the best bowler of his type in the world, and reaching a hundred test wickets at a rate to equal Shane Warne??? Graeme Swann's achievement is magnificent....SO WHY WAS IT NOT ALL OVER THE BACK PAGES OF THE NEWSPAPERS???? What has happened to our national summer sport when most of the dailies give preference to stories about off-season football signings rather than cricket? One 'traditionalist' 'paper recently proclaimed: 'England win the World Cup....but it's only at cricket'. What's ONLY about cricket??? England is fast becoming a nation of overgrown schoolchildren with short attention-spans and low boredom thresholds, so football (and twenty-twenty cricket) obviously fit the bill. I'd like to appeal to all readers (and columnists here) to start lobbying....both the newspapers with which you have connections, and the ECB, who seem to have forgotten that their first loyalty is to the general public, not a few greedy businessmen. Let's have our national summer sport back on free-to-air television, and given the attention it deserves once again.

  • Comment number 57.

    Ha ha, you couldn't be more spot on about Murray & Hamilton. If Hamilton were, & I chose my words carefully, of a Caucasian perssuasion then he wouldn't have been world champion. I await the racist allegations...

    Back to cricket, and I have enjoyed the banter today and can tell most of you think I'm an idiot, but hey it's all about opinions. Cook was played until he got runs so he couldn't lose really.

  • Comment number 58.

    Back to cricket, and I have enjoyed the banter today and can tell most of you think I'm an idiot, but hey it's all about opinions. Cook was played until he got runs so he couldn't lose really.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    i think that cook was, to coin a phrase, drinking at the last chance saloon today. the current selection policy does afford players many more chances than they might have been given in the past however. it is something i favour but it is certainly a moot point. wrt cook in particular i think the selectors have taken the view that his past record has been good enough to afford him an extended 'chance' to rectify his current slump. they have been rewarded with an excellent and important knock today. cook now needs to start showing some consistency.

  • Comment number 59.

    Trott hardly scoring at a canter is he....wahey!! apologies for that one. I think even if Cook had failed today I would have been concerned about playing anyone else at 2 Down Under. Perhaps bring someone in for Lords, but I think there's not enough time to get anyone else established at the top of the innings, so it's brilliant news that he got this ton. A bit of the rub of the green early on, but thats exactly what you need (before today I'm surprised he never got struck twice by lightning since nothing went his way!).

    So would people drop Morgan? For me he's doen a great job, and while I think that Ian Bell is a top-quality player in terms of technique, the Aussies always seem to know how to get under his skin.

    Also, praise for Matty Prior - what a response to threat of kieswetter - just become a better glovesman and make a marked improvement in consistency with the bat!

    England 3 - Australia 1 - One draw!!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Wish I'd popped into the bookies yesterday to put some money on Cook to make runs in the second innings- I had a feeling he'd get the "one big innings" that Gooch has been saying is what he needs. I have to admit, though, that what I was expecting was a scratchy fifty achieved with a bit of assistance from the Pakistan fielders which would cement his place in the team for another eighteen months. A good performance today, though what happens if he bags a pair at Lords- or if his back trouble suddenly flares up between now and November? I stll feel it would have been a useful investment to give Carberry a run in the past two games of this series.

    Of course he may yet get his chance- Strauss' position would be pretty shaky if he wasn't captain......

  • Comment number 61.

    SJ_The King: worry not: the difference between Swann and Monty/Giles is that Swann actually SPINS the ball. He defeats people with spin, as Ricky Ponting and others will testify....and jcb211: since when has a spinner getting 100 test wickets at a rate to equal Shane Warne been ORDINARY???? You really have come over all tall poppy syndrome, haven't you? Swann is an indomitable character of the type that England have been crying out for for years, Flintoff and Collingwood being the only other exceptions. My only concern is that he starts getting above himself (this 'drink/driving' incident is not, I hope, the indicator of another sporting high-achiever reckoning that he is above the law). Having said that, he seems a pretty level-headed sort of man overall. In the meantime, we have a world-class cricketer - don't knock: celebrate!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Personally i would drop morgan for bell. As much as im excited by morgan's potential i dont think he has done enough to keep a resurgent bell out of the side.

    The 130 that morgan made was fantastic, but not chanceless. since then he has hardly scored a run really. he (as many batsmen do) has a definite weakness outside off stump.

    Bell, as you quite rightly pointed out, has a better technique. However, you are also right to point out that the aussies do seem to see him as someone they can unsettle.

    It is therefore a difficult decision, but i personally would go for bell, who before he got injured, really started to show signs of fulfilling his potential.

  • Comment number 63.

    There is a footnote to my last post. the way this innings has just turned for england, morgan has a real opportunity to make it an even more difficult decision. hopefully he'l bat really well and take that opportunity.

  • Comment number 64.

    my apologies for the post that got deleted, but swann is a convicted drink driver and is not fit to wear the england sweater, another good role model, don't think so.

  • Comment number 65.

    61. At 4:13pm on 20 Aug 2010, gravybeard wrote:
    and jcb211: since when has a spinner getting 100 test wickets at a rate to equal Shane Warne been ORDINARY???? You really have come over all tall poppy syndrome, haven't you? Swann is an indomitable character of the type that England have been crying out for for years, Flintoff and Collingwood being the only other exceptions. My only concern is that he starts getting above himself (this 'drink/driving' incident is not, I hope, the indicator of another sporting high-achiever reckoning that he is above the law). Having said that, he seems a pretty level-headed sort of man overall. In the meantime, we have a world-class cricketer - don't knock: celebrate!!!

    -------------------------

    Erm....when did i call him ordinary? Gravybeard I'm not sure if you haven't read my posts properly (or at all!) or whether you're reading into something i've said wrongly. Have another look.

    j0hnb1972 - I'm gonna plump for a 50 from Morgan, and just to spite Milf_2_sugars I'm looking at a minimum of 80 for Colly! Don't let me down boys!!!

  • Comment number 66.

    Dammit Colly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    Well batted P Collingwood MBE, yet again his limited ability shines through. Oh and Morgan is now out to an awful shot.

  • Comment number 68.

    For all the debate, let us not forget that it is a great achievement to reach 100 Test wickets......especially when you do it in such quick time.

    There is no way a poor bowler would achieve such a level of performance at the highest standard in their sport. It doesn't matter who you play, or who you get out - you still need 10 per innings!! Numbers 8-11 count for the same as the openers (remember Edgbaston 2005?!)

    I personally feel Swanny brings a lot to the England set-up and is someone the watching public can warm to......as he has character. And he chucks some runs in too.

    How many spinners have we tried since Jan 1990? How successful have they been?

    Croft (49 wickets in 21 tests),
    Udal (8 in 4),
    Salisbury (20 in 15),
    Batty (11 in 7),
    Blackwell (0 in 1),
    Dawson (11 in 7),
    Patel (1 in 2),
    Schofield (0 in 2),
    Panesar (85 in 24),
    Tuffers (121 in 42),
    Watkinson (10 in 4),
    Such (37 in 11),
    Illingworth (19 in 9)

    .............to name a few.

    Only Tuffers has 100+ wickets but that came at an average of 3.36 wickets per game. Monty averages 3.5 per game so has the 2nd highest average wickets per game after Swanny.

    Swanny averages over 4 wickets per game. When 20 wickets are needed each game, he gets over 20% of the opposition out EVERY TIME.

    You have 5 bowlers like that, you'll be the best team in the world - FACT.

    Well done Swanny - here's to the next 100!



  • Comment number 69.

    well, im afraid that morgan has missed an opportunity there! shame. i just hope that prior can bat as well as he did in the 1st innings. england are in a bit of trouble here now.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ha ha, the inevitability of those wickets after my post is crushing! Perhaps I should now say that Prior is terrible in the hope he goes on to have a stormer!

  • Comment number 71.

    j0hnb1972 - I'm gonna plump for a 50 from Morgan, and just to spite Milf_2_sugars I'm looking at a minimum of 80 for Colly! Don't let me down boys!!!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    i honestly take no pleasure is saying......doh!

  • Comment number 72.

    sorry, should read 'in saying'

  • Comment number 73.

    I take pleasure in seeing Collingwood MBE showing how bad a player he is. Maybe Swann can get some runs to prove he deserves a place in the side?

  • Comment number 74.

    Milf_2_sugars, who would you take to Oz instead of Swann?

  • Comment number 75.

    I'd take Swann & Rashid & hope Swann plays well.

  • Comment number 76.

    Apologies, jcb211 - didn't see the top line of your 12.33 post: you were quoting some geezer called rohit. Please disregard my comment and apply it instead to rohit - now your post makes sense!!! Many apol's.

  • Comment number 77.

    73. At 4:51pm on 20 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:
    I take pleasure in seeing Collingwood MBE showing how bad a player he is. Maybe Swann can get some runs to prove he deserves a place in the side?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why do you take pleasure in an england batsman not doing well?

    whilst i agree that collingwood's technique is limited, he has got a test 200 against Aus in Aus and has played many important innings.

    As for swann, i dont think he really needs runs to prove he deserves a place in the team. maybe he will again show his worth to this england side by getting them out of the excrement they find themselves now with some more quality bowling.

    However it is a concern that swann is feeling under the weather (according to the sky commentary team), we really need him to be at his best if he is going to help save england here.

  • Comment number 78.

    Acehole get off your moral high horse, they aren't role models they're sportsmen. Not everyone is squeaky clean and I'd rather my kids looked up to Swann & seen what hard work has done for his career. Pest. I thought I was annoying.

  • Comment number 79.

    78. At 5:19pm on 20 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:
    Acehole get off your moral high horse, they aren't role models they're sportsmen. Not everyone is squeaky clean and I'd rather my kids looked up to Swann & seen what hard work has done for his career. Pest. I thought I was annoying.

    --------------------

    I agree!!!!



    Just with the last line though!

  • Comment number 80.

    Because Collingwood MBE holds the team back. I bet Shah & Bopara wish they had the chances he has had. Since his lucky 200 he has done nothing.

  • Comment number 81.

    80. At 5:27pm on 20 Aug 2010, Milf_2_sugars wrote:
    Because Collingwood MBE holds the team back. I bet Shah & Bopara wish they had the chances he has had. Since his lucky 200 he has done nothing.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    i agree that both of those players have better batting techniques than collingwood. however the mental disintegtration of bopara against aus was concerning. hopefully he will continue to push hard though and if he does so then im sure his chance will come again. not so sure about shah, he is a good batsman but he seems so uptight when he plays for england that i think the selectors just dont fancy him.

    i believe that collingwood has had quite a few important innings since the 200, but he needs some runs that is for sure.

  • Comment number 82.

    my apologies your right, i would like my kids to look up to a drink driver, tell them its fine to do it, assuming he hasn't run them over of course.
    so sportsman are not role models anymore? interesting
    who did you want to be when you grew up jack the ripper !!!

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    This relationship between Tufnell and Swann - is this what the latter meant when he needed a screwdriver to let the cat out?

    More pertinently, what will the reaction be if and when Swann is convicted for drink driving? All the sports pages seem strangely quiet so far. If he were a footballer he would have been slaughtered in the press by now.

  • Comment number 85.

    Another chance to be a matchwinner tomorrow! The way this test has developed, either Pakistan will win it on saturday or Swann will demolish the Pakistan batting with yet another of his economical 5 fors with Finn and Broad bagging the rest (Anderson doesnt seem likely to get wickets on this pitch).
    I laughed out loud reading the earlier comment on this thread about drink drivers should be allowed to play for England, exactly what I expect to hear from an Aussie supporter who knows Swann is every bit as dangerous to Ponting and co as Warne was to us at his best!
    Collingwood is making enough of a difference with his catches and batting to be a key member of the side.In fact Strauss is guilty of under bowling Collingwood, who should always be his other goto man when they hit these places where the batsmen are dominating our seamers. Swann and Collingwood bowling together can slow down just about any batting lineup threatening to run the game away from us.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    To Ben Dirs

    Apologies for straying off topic but I was wondering if you will be doing a blog on the potential David Haye v Audley Harrison fight. This will be billed as a huge fight with the potential to grab the British public's imagination. Personally I'm not that keen on the fight but it would be interesting to hear what the general readers of the BBC think of the prospect.

    Thanks

    Strongback

  • Comment number 88.


    Graeme Swann has been brilliant on Day 3 of the ongoing Test Match at Lords. Taking 4 for 12 and 1 for 6 are dream bowling feats for any test cricketer. This Test Match has been dominated by Trott, Broad, Graeme and rival bowler Amir with his brilliant half a dozen strikes.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

 

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