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Six strings and 20 overs

Graeme Swann | 09:19 UK time, Thursday, 12 June 2008

Those of you who think the life of an international cricketer is one of glitz and glamour (I appreciate that may not be many of you) should see me now.

I sit here, alone in my hotel room in Manchester, stuck with rubbish TV all night and with none of the England boys due to arrive until Thursday.

And to make matters worse, I've not only forgotten to pack half my gear, including my shoes, I've forgotten my guitar.

Woe is me - although at least my hotel neighbours will get some decent sleep tonight.

That said, you should hear some of the tunes me and my band have been writing. We've got some top stuff up our sleeve so don't be surprised if we get ourselves a number one record at some stage.

You never know, we could be bigger than The Beatles. Well, taller than The Beatles at least.

Anyway, with Nottinghamshire not involved in the Twenty20 Cup until Friday, I've spent my day training all morning and then driving 200 miles for a corporate sponsorship event, while most county cricketers get their teeth stuck into the form of the game taking the cricketing world by storm.

Wednesday saw the confirmation that the England and Wales Cricket Board have signed up to take part in an annual game for the next five years that will see businessman Sir Allen Stanford offer a prize fund of £10m for a winner-takes-all Twenty20 match involving England in Antigua.

For my full thoughts on this, click here, but what I'll say in this blog is that the money floating about in the game now is phenomenal, just mesmerising.

Especially as a player more renowned for the short form of the game, it's an exciting time to be a cricketer and that game would be one I'd be desperate to play in.

Paul Collingwood, Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Swann

However, it's not just about the money for me - even though I could pay off the mortgage or sort myself out a new downstairs bathroom with the cash, no doubt.

I know me, and I know no matter what I earned I'd waste it all in three months anyway.

I'd be the bloke who buys a Ferrari and a helicopter and then writes them both off within a week. I'm rubbish with money and, as a result, I genuinely don't get excited about it.

What I do get excited about is the prospect of playing in a match of such magnitude. Some players will regard it with excitement, some with trepidation, but I want to be the best I can be at any form of the game I put my hand to and that would be the pinnacle.

Of course, it could all be for nothing - if you lose it's basically a two-day holiday in Antigua and three months of sleepless nights wondering where it all went wrong - but I'd love to be there.

As for the future - who knows? Maybe county sides will start concentrating on the Twenty20 side a bit more, or maybe the two forms of the game - the red ball and the white ball - will develop into different sports in their own right, a bit like rugby union and rugby league.

There's no doubting that we are seeing a revolution in cricket and I, for one, am just dead excited to be involved.

For now, though, my focus - and the focus of all the England players - is on the upcoming series against New Zealand.

Everyone knows the score - and the cliches - for this series. Yes, New Zealand are a stronger one-day unit than they are a Test side and, yes, we could be in for a 'backlash' after their Test series defeat.

But there's not a huge amount to complain about with this England side at the moment, I don't think.

Our Test side have just secured back-to-back Test series wins and as a one-day unit we're settling into our stride and generally sticking on an upward curve.

Even though we lost the last one-day series against the Kiwis, we played a lot of good cricket and, under Peter Moores and Paul Collingwood, we're heading in the right direction.

Brendon McCullum is the absolute key for them. He is so explosive at the top of the order and, when he fires, New Zealand really tick. When we got him out early in previous series we generally dominated so we'll be looking to do that as often as possible.

And we have every chance of doing that. Our bowling unit was fantastic against them in the Test side - Jimmy Anderson was brilliant, Ryan Sidebottom does what he always does and that's bowl majestically, and Stuart Broad really impressed with ball and bat.

There are a couple of guys coming in for stick - you have to expect that, this is sport at the highest level - but the Test side have shown a consistency of selection brings success on the pitch and hopefully a similar approach will bring the same results in the short form of the game.

I firmly believe we have the tools to be a top one-day side and we'll be looking to push on and continue to improve at this level in this series.

We can definitely win it, for sure. Especially with the support of the crowds behind us; English fans are second to none.

On a personal note, my form this season has been really pleasing. I've taken a lot of wickets - especially in the longer form of the game - and I've scored a few runs, so I feel in really good shape for this series.

Now, I'm just looking forward to catching up with the boys. I haven't seen most of them since New Zealand and it will be good to get back into the England fold and doing my bit to help us beat the Kiwis.

It starts, of course, with the Twenty20 game on Friday at Old Trafford. We won the last two against them comfortably and it would be great to get a similar performance and result this time around.

Off the field, without my guitar, my entertainment duties may be a touch restrained. Although I could get Jimmy to bring his for me... that'll please the neighbours!

By the way, in future columns I'll be endeavouring to answer your questions, so post them below and I will respond to the best (and possibly the worst!) next time.

Cheers,
Graeme.

In future columns I'll be answering the best (and worst!) of your questions, so post them below and I will respond next time. Thanks.

Graeme Swann was talking to Sam Lyon

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    'I'm rubbish with money and, as a result, I genuinely don't get excited about it.

    What I do get excited about is the prospect of playing in a match of such magnitude.'


    So on that basis Graeme, if it aint money, how's the magnitude generated for you in effectively a private game of very little international significance? Wouldn't being selected and playing in the Ashes in 2009 be more magnitudinous...?

  • Comment number 2.

    Graeme, it may look to you like a game of great magnitude, but from the point of view of an England fan, it seems like a totally meaningless T20 game dreamed up to promote the Stanford brand. Aren't you supposed to represent the national interest and supporters when wearing the 3 Lions? We don't care whether you beat the West Indies All-Stars, we do care greatly about regaining the Ashes, so the fact that you might earn a great deal more for winning a couple of pointless T20s than, say, Monty would for spinning us to victory against the Australians, is surely an unacceptable order of priorities. Not only (as your blog seems to confirm) is this very likely to damage England's team spirit and motivation, and maybe Test cricket itself, it could drive a real wedge between the team and its supporters. If you manage to win when personal riches are at stake, and then lose badly when playing 'merely' for national pride and glory, expect a rough ride indeed from disillusioned fans.

  • Comment number 3.

    Is it at all possible to mention the fact you play guitar any more often than you do?

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    graeme who??

  • Comment number 6.

    Get away.....you must be drooling with anticipation. Ifyou can play in a few of the games you'll be able to buy more than just a new downstairs bathroom. But good luck to you.....any donations you'd like to make to the Keep Test Cricket Alive Foundation please foward to me. Ferraris also accepted!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry, Graeme, but true cricket fans aren't interested in meaningless games of cricket.
    Of what significance is a game between an "England XI" playing for personal money against a group of Stanford "All-stars"?
    It won't be a first class fixture, it isn't against a recognized representative team, it is in the basest form of cricket (highly contrived), it has no connection with any other form of cricket -------it is to satisfy a billionaire's ego. Sadly that person despises the full form of the game and is on a mission to elevate T/20 over and beyond other purer forms of the game.
    I don't blame you for wishing to earn £500,000 in 3 hours.
    Just don't try and kid yourself and others that it has anything to do with real SPORT or TRUE CRICKET.
    You may be playing in England colours (if you get picked). You won't be representing ENGLAND.
    Not sure why you have been chosen to do a blog for the BBC. I'm not interested in your private life, music tastes or anything else. I am interested in the development of English cricket, at all levels, from youth to Test.
    Good luck with developing your skills as an all-rounder. How you field, bat and bowl is
    of concern and potential interest , not what you might earn!

  • Comment number 8.

    As for 20-20 cricket. Should England reconsider Trescothick (look at what he has done for Somerset!)
    Might he play in Stanfords games?
    lets hopr somerset make the final and he can be seen playing once again against ture international standard opposition

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    More questions really rather than comments:

    1. Heard a rumour that you play the guitar. Is that true? Are you any good? Should we all be looking forward to a number one in the hit parade rather than a summer of decent cricket?

    2. I've always found it astonishing to hear that a professional cricketer has travelled to a match but left half his gear at home. My ghast was flabbered by Harmison's leaving his bowling boots at home, for example, considering his job was to bowl and nothing else. What was he thinking when he packed his bag I wonder? Bit like a plumber turning up and asking the lady of the house "Scuse me missus, have you got a pipe wrench I could borrow, I left the tools of my trade at home. I did bring a change of underwear and my iPod though."

    3. You said you were 'stuck with rubbish TV all night.' You don't tell us what TV programs you would've liked, or which ones were rubbish.

    4. It seems you normally keep your neighbours from 'getting some decent sleep' at night when you stay in hotels. Is that because you play your guitar very loud late at night?

    5. How can the one-day unit be "generally sticking on an upward curve" when you lost the last one-day series you played, and in the last 4 series, won 2 lost 2?

    Good luck with the Twenty20! I too "firmly believe we have the tools to be a top one-day side", as long as everyone remembers to bring 'em to the game.

  • Comment number 11.

    Has anyone seen a sense of humour hanging around the bbc site? It would appear that several posters above have lost theirs.

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but I get the teensiest impression that Swanny's blog is not supposed to be about 'the development of English cricket at all levels' but more a light-hearted look behind the scenes of the England team. Maybe some of you are in the wrong place?

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    11. DameNellyMelly

    It's possible to have a sense of humour and and a concern for the future of the word's greatest game. Points here are made about some of the potential inequities that are likely to follow Stanford's massive investment and the impacts on the motivations of professional players.

    Graeme's blog has given some potential insight into that; he's a big boy and i'm sure he can come back and give some reasoned responses in the future... So, there's room for all of us. Did you have any actual cricket views on anything in the article yourself (be they ever so tenuous)?

  • Comment number 14.

    4DayBeliever

    I think that the recent remarks by Paul Collingwood regarding the dangers of the influx of money into the shorter form of the game are interesting:

    “When I was a kid, all I thought about was playing in the World Cup or winning the Ashes. We don’t want kids growing up just dreaming about winning Stanford matches to earn some money or playing in the Indian Premier League."

    The ECB (and ICC) have much to do to ensure the survival of the Test game and their resolve in this regard will be tested over the coming months. Whatever your views, it's an interesting time to observe the sport, and I guess an even more interesting time to be playing it professionally.

    However - if I want to read in depth and impassioned discussions I tend to read (and contribute to) the broadsheet blogs. If I want a laugh, I read Swanny and he rarely disappoints.




  • Comment number 15.

    DameMellyNelly

    Fair enough, i was also heartened by Collingwood's comments. T20 has given rise to impassioned times - and people are just keen to be heard in whatever forum they willl be tolerated in!

  • Comment number 16.

    I've got to agree with DameNellyMelly, i think a few people around here need to take a happy pill or two!!
    Intereseting comments Swanny, I do agree with one of the first posters in that there is a serious threat to the game with all this money coming in, as alot of teams (more so the likes of England) have a very different looking test team to the one day team, and surely Vaughny would be a little miffed that he's been leading the team (very successfully all in all) for nearly a decade, and just 12 months after he steps down for the sake of the one day game he's missing out on a £500,000 a yar pay day, I can't imagine his disposition being too sunny in the dressing room for the first test series after the game has taken place!! what would be a fair team to pick? do you pick the best one day players or the best servants to Enmglaish cricket who would surely be the ones most deserving of a large payday. Personally, i think they should pick me. I'm utterly crap but i could really use £500,000!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    By the way, i meant English, not Enmglaish!!
    my fat fingers have a mind of their own...

  • Comment number 18.

    Disappointing that so many people seem upset that someone is enthusiastic about playing the guitar. Do we expect our cricketers to be cricketing robots or rounded individuals?

    Strange that the traditional musician's joke about keeping the neighbours awake is taken so seriously. Where's the British sense of humour gone?

    Surely no one believes that this one off big money pantomime of a Twenty20 match will mean anything except publicity for the organiser and wealth for the players. But what's wrong with entertainers making money? Footballers, musicians and TV "personalities" do. I dare say becoming an international cricketer takes more effort, talent and application than presenting the Jonathan Ross show.

    Twenty20 will squeeze out "proper cricket" in the same way that pop music has squeezed out orchestral music. Oh, hang on, we still have orchestral music after 50 years of pop...

  • Comment number 19.

    we dont want our english cricketers to be probots.

  • Comment number 20.

    probots eg. micheal hussey who is king probot and jacque kallis.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm with NellyMelly. I never tire of reading Swanny on the BBC or in the AOC magazine. I always reckon a funny bloke and he always raises a titter. You miserable chimps out there might accuse me of being infantile and easily pleased but who's got the most mates down the pub, eh?

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm not a top cricketer, but I do need to make money via my job, which is no different to them, or probably you.

    "So on that basis Graeme, if it aint money, how's the magnitude generated for you in effectively a private game of very little international significance? Wouldn't being selected and playing in the Ashes in 2009 be more magnitudinous...?"

    Well if he's not getting many chanes to perform in the forms of the game you so value at International level, pehaps this is the best chance of proving he can, by performing better than others under extreme pressure.

    "...but from the point of view of an England fan, it seems like a totally meaningless T20 game dreamed up to promote the Stanford brand. Aren't you supposed to represent the national interest and supporters when wearing the 3 Lions"

    But if he doesn't get picked for the Test squad, is he supposed to not be excited by this?

    Making money and playing for your country are not mutually exclusive. Let's at least give our players the benefit of the doubt until they give reason for us not to.


  • Comment number 23.

    Hey :)
    i was wondering since normally like in Tests and ODIs Stuart Broad's shirt number is usually number 39. But recently in the T20 and in the start of The New Zealand ODIs, his number has been number 8? Why has his number changed?

  • Comment number 24.

    Swanny, fancy a pint next time you are in Loughborough? No-one here appreciates cricket and music enough! Also heard a cheeky little rumour you were a Toon Army fan? That definately gets you points, unlike your mackem-loving skipper...

  • Comment number 25.

    Swanny,

    Congrats on winning the T20 and 1st ODI.

    Maybe this will show the imberciles who think that players have to eat, sleep and breathe cricket that you can be a normal person with a variety of interests and also be good at cricket.

    All the best.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Graeme
    Congratulations on an excellent win against NZ on Sunday, I was there, fantastic game except for all the police standing in my view
    Have you managed to sort out the squad's taste in music yet? Or are they still listening to 'chavvy' music, boybands and cheesy pop?

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Swanny,
    I am well proud of the team's fantastic recent performances, because it shows we are going in the right direction with the Ashes a year away. Please pass on to your team mates that this is what the real fans are interested in, not the lining of pockets that may come before then.
    But this is an uncomfortable time for those of us who have watched England through thick and thin, in my case since Geoffrey Boycott played, and that is a test of a five year old's character I can tell you!
    Cricket is a "clever" game. The interactions, subtleties, variations and nuances test the synapses to the full. You see the whole of life on the cricket field. God forbid that it should attempt to resemble football in any way, with it exorbitant finances, win at all costs mentality (ie cheating) and thoroughly dislikable players.
    You guys are heroes to us, and I don't want you to starve for your art! But I really can't stomach the likes of KP going on about Antigua and the IPL in every interview he gives (KP - better to keep your mouth shut and let people think......etc etc).
    As for the "David Beckham of cricket" Goldenballs Broady, PLEASE tell him to keep his ego away from all that utter rubbish. To my mind, he could do more for English cricket by keeping his head down, working hard and attracting people to the sport because of his talent and spirit than any of this 20/20 frenzy. Poor lad can't help being so handsome, but he will have to go the extra yard to be taken seriously because of it.
    Keep up the great work on your column! It reminds me that cricket is about characters, love the lot of you!

  • Comment number 28.

    With all the invention in cricket lately, it feels as if the bowlers are being left behind - are there any "new" deliveries that Graham is trying to develop or that he is had heard other players trying to develop?

    Good luck with the one day series!

  • Comment number 29.

    Graeme,

    If given the choice of receiving an alpaca or a warthog as a house warming gift, were you to buy a 4 bedroom house in Norfolk, would you:

    a) choose warthog
    b) choose alpaca
    c) perform a dance explaining the life cycle of an avocado; or
    d) challenge Cliff Thorburn to an arm wrestle?

 

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