Big mouth strikes again

If we weren’t doomed before … Swanny says he expects England to ‘dominate’ India’s spinners

Graeme Swann is one of our favourite cricketers. We love him to death here at TFT. But sometimes, just sometimes, he’s a bit like that embarrassing girlfriend you used to have – you know, the quirky one you really fancied but none of your friends got. Sometimes you just wish they’d shut up.

England have prepared really hard for this upcoming series against India. Gooch and Flower have had the batsmen practicing with crowd noise bellowing out of speakers. The top order have faced a million overs from Merlin in the nets. But thanks to Swanny, all that has gone out of the window. Why? Because he’s just said, very publically, that India don’t possess any mystery spinners and he wouldn’t be surprised if our batsmen dominate. That’s us screwed then.

India don’t need a lot of incentive to beat England. We are, after all, their former imperial masters who thrashed them four nil last year. However, we reckon Swann’s just written Duncan Fletcher’s team talk for him.

Saying that England’s troubles in the UAE came against mystery spin, and that Ashwin and Ojha don’t have any ‘mystery’ about them, is likely to backfire big time. Besides, Ashwin does actually have a rather useful carrom ball. You’d have thought the England lads would have sussed that out after all those hours of meticulous preparation.

Why oh why do England always shoot themselves in the foot before series in India?

Do you remember the time in the 1990s when Keith Fletcher went on a scouting mission to watch Anil Kumble? He announced that England should be big favourites because ‘our spinners are much better than theirs’ and ‘ Kumble is just a medium pacer who doesn’t turn it’. A month later Kumble had several five-fors under his belt whilst John Emburey had been eaten alive by Navjot Singh Sidhu.

It’s all very well being optimistic. We admit we’re far too pessimistic sometimes (that’s what decades of supporting the England cricket team will do to you). But there’s positive thinking … and then there’s being a big dope.

James Morgan


  • Surely he has a point that unlike the Sri Lanka and Pakistan spinners, the Indian spinners deploy conventional techniques which England might be more comfortable with. Even ashwin’s carrom ball has a profile like an arm ball.

    • I’ve seen ashwin turn it both ways. He’s one of the best spinners in the world, which is why he’s kept harbajan out of the team so much, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t take shed loads of wickets. Put it this way, he’s twice the bowler either herath or rehman are IMHO – and both have taken big hauls against England recently. India don’t have a cheating chucker, but their spinners are still top notch (especially at home).

  • One of England’s real problems batting against spin is that they lose in their heads before they even go out to bat. They get so intimidated by decent spinners that they end up getting themselves out to innocuous balls. Who can forget Adam Hollioake facing Shane Warne, and watching a slow, straight ball all the way on to his stumps without offering the tiniest bit of resistance? That’s been emulated time and again. Same in Pakistan this year. Often wasn’t the good balls that even got them out.

    As I’ve heard some pretty great former players say, what they need is to stop being terrified of spinners and play the ball on its merits more (it’s notable they often play these spinners much better in ODIs when it doesn’t count for so much).

    Swann’s comment has hubris written all over it (“We’re going to make them grovel!” anyone?), but what could he really say when asked? “No, we haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. We’ll probably be all out or 90”?

    May as well wind them up. The fans are always frothing at the mouth, but when the players start doing it to it’s hilarious.

  • Swann has overstepped the speaking line on many occasions anyway. Recall that he wanted to “kill a cheating Sri Lankan batsman” in one of the tour games early this year, and the “Salman Butt is an arrogant sob” line a year earlier? Whether these are true or not, he does too much talking for his own good, Graeme.


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