Graeme Swann: ‘The more you play, the more you yearn for Ashes cricket’

Spinner reveals his ‘desperation’ to win series and shrugs off poor Trent Bridge record

The Ashes are almost upon us. For the next six weeks – and probably for the four months beyond that – they will never leave. Anybody who doubts the effect and status of this great sporting contest should have heard Graeme Swann on Monday, 48 hours before the start of the 327th Test match between England and Australia.

“If we do well in six weeks’ time and you get swept up in the euphoria and you might end up with MBEs,” he said. “No hang on, half our team have got MBEs already, knighthoods let us say, let’s dream big. Yeah, why not, we win 5-0, I take 50 wickets I get knighted, PM in five years’ time.”

Swann was perhaps veering crazily into the wilder shores of what might happen in the first of the two back-to back Ashes series that will be played by early January. But he was slightly more restrained in assessing what it means to a player who has already  appeared in two Ashes-winning series. Do not imagine that it palls.

“If anything it means more,” he said. “The more cricket you play that isn’t Ashes cricket, the more you yearn for Ashes cricket. Test cricket for England anywhere in the world is magnificent but there’s just something special about the Ashes.

“We were never banned from talking about it or thinking about it but we were encouraged to put it on the back-burner and wait till this week but I have been thinking about this for months now. I was lying in my bedroom in America after the elbow  operation there two months ago and all I was thinking was that this had better be right and firing in time for the first Test match at Trent Bridge.”

England have rarely been more firmly favoured to win an Ashes series than this one, though it is always worth bearing in mind what happened in 1958-59 and 1989 when they were heavily fancied and crushed 4-0 on both occasions. The weight of expectation is something they must resist at all costs, Swann reflected. “It can bite you on the backside fairly quickly this game,” he said.

“We’re not going into this game viewing the Australians as anything other than a very difficult team to beat despite recent results in India. Despite what they might say we’re not viewing them as a pushover at all.”

Swann is expected to be a significant factor throughout and dry conditions, exacerbated by modern drainage, for the first Test of the series may encourage spin earlier than usual. However, he has had a quiet time of it at Trent Bridge both for England and Nottinghamshire.

In 37 first-class matches at the ground, he has never taken more than four wickets in an innings and his three Test matches there have yielded three wickets for 195 runs. Of the 33 grounds on which he has now played Test cricket it is his second least  productive. Somewhere has to occupy that place in the list but it is not usually a player’s home turf.

Despite the reluctance of pitches at Trent Bridge to turn he is mildly optimistic that the dry conditions will help. But, for others, there is clearly some concern about the state of the pitch with the hover cover remaining in place above the business area on Monday to try to preserve what moisture may still be there.

The presence of Mitchell Starc, the Australia left-arm fast bowler, also offers Swann some hope that the  resultant rough, “or whoever can kick up a bit of dust,” may also provide  encouragement. But Swann has played 15 first-class matches at Trent Bridge with the former England left-arm swing bowler Ryan Sidebottom and taken 24 wickets at almost 40 runs each. Swann pointed out that he had never taken a wicket at Headingley until playing against New Zealand there recently when he took 10 for 132 in the match. “So I don’t really think ‘Christ I’ve not done well here before’. I’ve bowled well here for Notts.”

The nation, of course, is now expecting an England triumph in the wake of the success of the British and Irish Lions in Sydney and Andy Murray at Wimbledon and the feelgood factor was discernible around the ground yesterday, at least among onlookers.

Swann, having made a tilt to be premier, was more grounded. “Someone asked me earlier whether that makes it more important that we win this game, as if we wouldn’t have bothered trying if Andy Murray had got knocked out yesterday,” he said. “We will be desperate to win this Ashes. As a supporter I am a huge fan of everything England or Britain does. If I wasn’t playing in this series I would be standing in a pub come Wednesday afternoon for six weeks solid cheering on England. Hopefully we can provide a lot of people with a lot of reasons to get very drunk.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower