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English eyes smile for Swann

Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 14:40 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Looking around the room during Graeme Swann's press conference, it was noticeable how many journalists were watching and listening to him with interested smiles on their faces.

The English reporters were certainly pleased with the way day two of the first Test went for England against India in Chennai, but at that moment those smiles were definitely generated by Swann.

He is an eminently likeable and amusing character, sincere and generous hearted, yet never far away from a joke.

swannblog.jpgYou couldn't help but feel pleased for him, having taken two wickets in his first over of Test cricket.

And after believing he was the first player ever to do so, Swann was endearingly disappointed to learn that Richard Johnson had done it on debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 - although he was quick to quip that 'as it was Johnno, it was all right '.

I come from Swann's home county, Northants, and I've known him for a few years now. I had watched and reported on him before I first met him personally in the living room of a mutual friend where he was trying to learn the guitar.

I showed him a few chords and he sang along to a verse or two of Wonderwall by Oasis.

He remained as friendly and down to earth as he was that day, even after the move to Nottinghamshire (which he describes as "the best thing ever to happen to me") and now playing for England.

When Swann first got news of his selection for the first Test, he said his dad would be ecstatic. It was a pointed remark because his father, a former player himself, has been a constant source of encouragement in both of his sons' cricket careers - the elder Swann brother, Alec, played for both Northants and Lancashire.

Ray Swann is a teacher so one can only hope he hadn't left for school before his youngest son's dream opening over began. He and wife Mavis were glued to the TV in their Towcester home from 0400 on the first day of the match.

Swann's first experience of a senior England cricket tour was in South Africa under Duncan Fletcher back in 1999/2000 when he was a 19-year-old who had still to mature either as a person or a player.

He made his one-day debut but didn't ingratiate himself with the coach by famously missing the team bus. With 15 ODIs and a Test debut, he'll continue to use two mobile phone alarms to wake himself up every morning.

As a spinner there can be no better place to make your Test debut than India, particularly on a wicket such as this in Chennai which will turn even more as the match goes on.

It is too early to judge how far Swann's career will go in terms of challenging for the spinner's spot back home in less friendly conditions or indeed abroad in South Africa, West Indies or Australia, but whatever happens be sure he will enjoy the ride, and all cricket fans should enjoy it with him.


  • Comment number 1.

    I couldn't be happier for Graeme. He's spent the best part of a decade being amongst the best off spinners in county cricket, and a useful batsman too. In fact, one of the disappointing things about Swann is the fact that his batting never improved upon the promise he showed as a teenager, making his debut for Northants.

    His occasional media work, mostly on the radio, seems to indicate that he'll follow in the tradition of top class cricketers effortlessly moving into broadcast media.

  • Comment number 2.

    It was great to see Swannys debut, we are very lucky in nottingahmshire to have such a bevy of great players, well done Graham

  • Comment number 3.

    Swanny is a legend! Met him earlier this year, quality bloke, and for the way he's performed for Notts over the last few years, he deserved everything he gets.

  • Comment number 4.

    *deserves*...apologies for the poor English, it's bee a long day.

  • Comment number 5.


  • Comment number 6.

    Great to see such a balanced England team. Two fast bowlers who can hit the pitch and unsettle batsmen, one mercurial the other very accurate, a swing bowler who can swing both the old and new ball, and two spinners, one turning into the batsman, one away. A batting order with a quality batsman at 7 and a capable on at 8. No wonder we're doing well.

    Great news for Swann - I advocated his selection in Sri Lanka where we wrongly tried to shoehorn Sidebottom, Anderson and Harmison into the same team and had Sidebottom at number 8. This must not happen again, much as I feel sorry for whoever misses out (probably Sidebottom). Stuart Broad should play when conditions favour the seamers, Swann when they favour spinners, as both need to score runs, as Ashley Giles did in the Ashes win.

    For those who argue that runs aren't important at 7 or 8, today illustrates why you're wrong - Prior's innings should end up being the difference between near-parity and a comfortable advantage for England.

    Anyway, great day for England, and finally, well done to KP, who captained superbly and made all the right moves at the right times.

  • Comment number 7.

    Finally the day came that Swann made his test debut, the thing (as you can probably surmise from my name) that I have been longing for for so long.

    I really do wish the best for Graeme, and if he does well enough to push for a place above Monty when only one spinner plays, it could help English cricket more as Monty goes back to Northants and learns to bowl properly.

    Anyway, Good Luck to Swanny. Lets show Harbajan how to bowl some off-spin!

  • Comment number 8.

    I am pleased for Swann as I am for every Englishman and Welshman who performs well but my comments are:

    - Why do so many England players seem to make their debuts so late in their careers? Everyone else seems to blood their players at a younger age. The Australians don't have to bring in too many young players because of their great depth of talent but we could do with more players being given a chance a bit earlier.

    - Also very pleased for Strauss. Glad to see him perform well as he is a top bloke who deserves to be among the runs again. Pity Trescothick is not yet ready to make it 3 class players competing for the opening spots. Always good to have lefties in the opening partnership.

    - No surprise that the Test Matches are closer (ok, only 2 days played but still a lot closer!) than the ODIs. I sometimes wonder if the teams should be made up of completely different players as it is such a different format. Rugby 7s players are rarely in the test teams and are usually younger, fitter and faster!

    - Also glad that KP has not been scarred by the ODI massacre. Whatever you think of him he has certainly got a lot of self-belief and hutzpah. He also seems to be learning how to perform the role and despite the blip yesterday it does not seem to have affected his batting.

    - Post 6 is quite correct as there is a much better balance to this side than many others recently. It does not matter what team sport you look at - getting the right balance is critical to success and this has not been the case ever since the Ashes series. All those players in 2005 seemed to complement each other so well and they were just like Australia are in that everyone took it in turn to contribute.

    Maybe we are getting back to winning ways and playing some decent cricket. Will be interesting to see who copes with the spin best!

    Regards, Joe.

  • Comment number 9.

    Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke! I have waited some time for his cricketing achievements to match the magnificence of his superb chin, but today I think parity was achieved.

  • Comment number 10.

    Parity? Surely not! That would take a Pfieffer. He's close though.

  • Comment number 11.

    Im not too sure about englands balance in the side mainly around the batting- Fintoff is still batting one place too high for my liking and has always struggled against spin on the sub continent and at six he is likely to face the spinners in tandem early in his innings more often than the seamers out here the way he got out was systematic of his lack of footwork-i think prior may be better suited to bat 6 but only just! Owais shah should come in for colly but the selectors may question his stamina on the back of his innings in india last time around! I prefer to see flintoff play more expansively but at 6 this is a questionable tactic-england to be bowled out for less than 100 in the second innings

  • Comment number 12.

    I'd be interested to know whether there are any travelling England supporters at the match.

    Having had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka last year I was hoping to travel to India for the Tests, but sadly it wasn't to be. I also heard that the Barmy Army tour was cancelled.

    So, did anyone make it?


    PS Really enjoying your commentary

  • Comment number 13.


    you need to update your twitter stream - you've let it lapse...



    aka Spider (Jason) from Findon CC, West Sussex

    please say hi to Angus from me

  • Comment number 14.

    hi Jason (Spider),

    I'm not Twittering from India I'm afraid as I'm doing round the clock radio updates for Five Live, Radio 4, World Service, Radio One and the Asian Network, which doesn't leave time for much else!

    But Twitter will no doubt be back in action next Summer in England.

    Best wishes,

    ps I'm looking for Angus...

  • Comment number 15.

    Given his economy and tendancy to bowl long-hops, I'm still unconvinced about Graeme Swann.

    But give him his dues, he's done what's been asked of him and now he has a fantastic opportunity to impress himself on the selection, particularly for the sub-continent fixtures.

  • Comment number 16.

    I would never have picked him as a World class test spinner. I hope this start is the beginning of a record that will prove me wrong.

  • Comment number 17.

    oh for god's sake he has only taken two wickets so far and the British media started idolizing the kid. Let him play at least ten games, if he did well, then start a blog called "English eyes smile for Swann". Like every other English player he will do good in a couple of matches then goes out of form for the rest of his life.

  • Comment number 18.

    Seriously, xerxes12345, did you read the piece? It's not about him being a great cricketer, or even about idolising him.

    It's just a background article, more about his personality, and how he came to be a 29 year old making his test début.

  • Comment number 19.

    Alison? are you serious? that pitch was a spinners heaven, even giles could have spun the ball on that pitch...

    I dont know why im surprised typical English press over hype players so they fall flat on there faces.

    He is over-rated and if monty got the support of his team and selectors he would do an incredible spinner, but we all know why that wont happen dont we?

  • Comment number 20.


    Couldn't agree more. Alison, I know you've known him for a few years and are happy for him, but could you not think of anything else to write about other than this guys getting 2 wickets? That's not even an achievement. Monty is by far England's best spinner.

    What about India's great victory or Sachin's or Strauss' centuries?

    What about the unsportsman tactics used by the Enligsh bowlers when they couldn't use their skill to get out the Indian batsmen?

    This is yet another example of the British press overhyping a mediocre player. When he fails at another occassion, I wonder if the same press will be quick to point that out.

  • Comment number 21.

    #20 Your right Swann was a small part of this game, Strauss played TWO great innings and yet this hasn't registered with Alison?? puzzling :-s

    From what I saw of the game Swann missed an opportunity to bowl his team to victory, instead he was happy with his 2 wickets and showed how great he is.

    I think Alison needs to stop making friends, and discuss cricket professionally for the true fans.

    From an England fan I was embarrassed and shocked by the way the Flintoff and Harmison behaved, they should concentrate on skill instead of behaving like Middlesex Sunday league cricketers.

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't know why I'm surprised by people's reactions. Anonymous posting on the internet doesn't promote sensible discussion.

    This article was written at the end of the second day, and is specifically about the only debutant in the game. There are lots of articles about what happened during the game, Aggers' piece about what a blow the Indians' winning will be to England.

    At no point does this piece mention anything about Swann being English cricket's "Great White Hope". I'd suggest the point is to give some background as to who Swann is, for those (many) cricket fans who don't pay much attention to county cricket.

    As an aside, whilst I like Adil Rashid as a player, I just don't feel his bowling is ready for test cricket yet. England have little to gain from blooding him in India, and there's always the risk that his progress is knocked back. Does anyone remember Chris Schofield's first test match?

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Alison, great to see you blogging again

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Alison. If I am to believe Adam Mountford you must be a very gutsy girl to put your predicament in the toilet on the air waves. Were you scared? Did you think you'd ever come out. A very frustrating experience.
    I am tickled no end imagining you clutching on to your cellphone even while sleeping.

  • Comment number 25.

    Like it how Notts fans think its great having loads of players who play for England !

    Best quote this week from Reid. Its great having Broad playing for Notts and England, but he's only played 3 games for Notts.

    I think Notts is where every player goes to get into the England team.

  • Comment number 26.

    To gayswann and fattyflintoff,

    It seems you haven't bothered to read my piece through until the end before leaping in with your comments. If you did you would have read that I acknowledged the conditions Swann was bowling in, and was cautious about the level of success he will have in the long term.

    For those who did read the whole piece, I hope I came from a slightly different perspective to give an insight into the character and personality of the newest name in the England Test team, who made headlines following an extraordinary first over in Test cricket.

    All best wishes.

  • Comment number 27.

    hi alison and a very happy christmas to you!
    a nice article as always, and i like your style on tms and 5live.
    onto the cricket.

    listening to peter moores is really boring. yes, i know we must always take the positives, and i'm sure he is a really nice nice guy. ,but aside from the soundbites and platitudes in interviews, in pro. sport it's down to results. where the responsibility lies in cricket is always difficult, the selectors- geoff miller etc. moores. the skipper and /or the players?

    but losing, indeed almost another blackwash in the odi's and tests, don't we need to ask some questions as to where we are at?
    england were useless in the odi's and the tests, somewhat better , but still beaten.
    and i think england will struggle in the caribbean agianst a resurgent windies side.

    so in conclusion have we got the right blokes in place?
    kp as a skipper is obviously right. but the composition of the team, coach and selectors?
    all these guys are very well paid. do they deserve to be?
    steve , durham


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