Swann leaps to captain's defence after 'witch-hunt'

  • @stephenbrenkley

The "Andrew Strauss Affair" has brought out a touching facet of English cricket fans. They have ganged up on those members of the "meeja" who would dare to question Strauss's right to be in the dual roles of England captain and opener.

Almost to a man and woman, it seems, they have supported his right to continue, given his past heroic deeds. Social networking sites have been abuzz with comments in Strauss's favour and there is probably an appreciation society on Facetwit. This is their right.

But Strauss himself will be aware that a lack of runs, which had brought only one hundred in 48 innings, extended yesterday to 49, and 24 since his most recent, allied to a series of defeats, invites scrutiny. His innings yesterday did not see off the scrutineers altogether – only centuries do that.

Nobody in the England dressing room supports the captain with as much passion as the off-spinner Graeme Swann, above, who moved to 17th place in the country's Test wicket-taking list yesterday.

"Everyone was rooting for Straussy who has come under what I consider very unfair criticism," said Swann, above. "What has been said is what I see as a witch-hunt, I think unjustified, but you couldn't tell from the way he carries himself. He has remained very laid-back and phlegmatic.

"He's the best captain in world cricket and a world-class opening batsman. I'm a strong ally and he'll get nothing but support from me."