England spinner Graeme Swann relishing Test series with India

First Test: England v India

  • Venue: Lord's
  • Date: 21-25 July
  • Start time: 1100 BST

Coverage: Live ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave & BBC Sport website; live video scorecard on Red Button (not Freeview); live text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobile; watch live on Sky Sports (subscription required); highlights each evening on Channel 5

Graeme Swann

England bowler Swann made his Test debut against India in December 2008

England's Graeme Swann says it is time for the "real business" of the summer ahead of the Test series against India.

The first Test starts at Lord's on Thursday and, having recently beaten Sri Lanka 1-0, England can go top of the rankings if they win by two Tests.

"The phoney war is over, and this is the major draw of the summer," said Swann. "It's down to the real business.

"India are the number one team and they got there through merit. There's no way to cheat those rankings."

England face India in four Test matches over the next few weeks.

The three-match series with Sri Lanka was beset by rain delays and suffered from disappointing ticket sales, but there is growing excitement about England taking on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's tourists.

Sure, Tendulkar is the best player of the modern generation, but it would be very risky to focus our energies on one player

England's Graeme Swann

"The second half of the English summer always feels like the cricket season has really arrived," added Swann, who made his Test debut against India at Chennai in 2008.

"It's not to disrespect Sri Lanka by saying that but this is the major draw of the summer.

"The Australia series should be viewed as a separate entity and there is nothing for an Englishman or an Australian to rival the sheer size of that series.

"But this is as close as you're going to get at the moment because India are the number one team in the world.

"Whether it will be tougher than Australia is hard to say; going to Australia and winning 3-1 there was probably the toughest series I've played in."

Much of the pre-series hype surrounds Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who has never scored a Test century at Lord's and is also bidding to become the first player to score 100 international centuries, having struck 51 in Tests and 48 in one-day internationals.

But Swann has warned against England concentrating too much on how to get the brilliant 38-year-old out.

"It would be very, very risky to focus all our energies on one player," he said. "Sure, he's the best player of the modern generation, but if we focus on one guy another will sneak in the back door and take it away from us.

Report - No Hawk-Eye referrals for England v India Tests

"In MS Dhoni they have possibly the most charismatic player India has ever had, with the sway he holds in that country now.

"I think he is the most important player in that team now. He leads from the front, is a very dangerous cricketer and if we can get at anyone then he is probably the key man."

Swann also said he hopes the confusion over the use of the Decision Review System (DRS) in Test cricket will be short-lived.

No technological assistance will be available on lbw appeals in the England v India Test series because the visitors objected.

"In my opinion it's been a great addition over the last couple of years and it works," said Swann.

"But the powers that be have decided we're only using it for caught behind decisions."

DRS allows teams to refer decisions made by the on-field umpires to a third match official, who uses video replays and various other devices to help reach the correct decision.