Having been there and done that, Graeme Swann is now mentoring a group of young England spinners who will take part in a ‘Shadow Tour’ of India next month with a couple of them in contention to make the senior squad for the five-Test series starting on January 25. Off-spinner Swann claimed 20 wickets and along with Monty Panesar played a crucial role in handing India a shock 2-1 defeat in a four-Test series in 2012-13 for the Anthony de Mello Trophy, registering a rare feat in history.
Before that series, England had won a Test series in 1984-85 and Swann was instrumental in a series victory after 27 long years.
Swann is currently back in his spin-bowling consultant role during an England Lions camp in the UAE, who will also be busy playing their counterparts India A simultaneously.
“A lot of them are just worried about what it’s like in Test cricket; do you have to bowl magic balls or do something different? You don’t actually – the pressure of Test cricket is felt by the batsmen as much, if not more, than the bowler,” was Swann was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“I was exactly the same back then. I thought you had to be absolutely better than you’ve ever been every time you bowl in Test cricket. You actually don’t,” he said.
Swann, who is England’s seventh-highest wicket-taker with 255 scalps in 60 Tests and their second-best spinner overall, believes that holding on to one’s talent should be enough for any bowler.
“You have to be yourself and be very consistent. That’s probably what I’m trying to get across the most – they’ve all got balls in their cupboard to take wickets in Test cricket already,” he added.
With humor a big part of 44-year-old Swann’s life, he says working with England players in any capacity keeps him motivated.
“To be able to get involved and hopefully do something for the team and English cricket, it’s a completely different feeling. It gets me out of bed with a jump in the morning instead of dragging myself out and moping after the dog in the park,” he added.
Swann’s career came to an abrupt end when he announced his retirement, plagued by an elbow injury, midway through England’s 5-0 annihilation at the hands of Australia in the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under.
But the offie, who also played 79 ODIs and 39 T20Is for England, including an appearance in the 2011 World Cup, said there is no room for regret.
“You keep thinking – could I have waited? Could I have seen if my elbow got better? And then I’d see England play again and get massive jealousy,” he said.
“I’ll be honest, I still get it now. I think it will help when Jimmy Anderson breaks a hip or something when he walks. But to see your mate still doing it and being on the outside, it’s hard. It is not fun.” “I would love to be a grey-haired wily old spinner playing for England like him. I don’t think I could have kept my fitness up, to be fair. That’s life. I was dealt a great hand for five years, if I mourn the end of it, it will take away from how great those five years were,” Swann added.
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