Swann benefits from England line-up changes
Graeme Swann is the main beneficiary of England's decision to resume their tour of India after being handed his debut in the opening Test at the Chepauk Stadium tomorrow.
The 29-year-old Nottinghamshire off-spinner was today named in an England side showing two changes to the line-up which beat South Africa in the final Test of last summer at The Oval.
Swann has been included nine years after being selected for the Millennium tour to South Africa, when he failed to impress new coach Duncan Fletcher and was sidelined for the remainder of his reign.
He replaces injured seamer Stuart Broad and will partner former Northamptonshire team-mate Monty Panesar while Matt Prior reclaims the wicketkeeping role from Tim Ambrose a year after the last of his 10 appearances.
It represents a significant gamble by the tourists at a stadium which was baked in sunshine today following yesterday's rain against an Indian side renowned for their ability against spin.
But captain Kevin Pietersen watched the success of Australian off-spinner Jason Krejza, who claimed 12 wickets on his Test debut in Nagpur at the start of November, and convinced him that playing two spinners offered the best chance of England success.
"It's a decision we have come to because we think the wicket could spin," explained Pietersen.
"We've had a look at it and it probably gives us our best and most attacking option.
"Graeme Swann has bowled absolutely fantastically leading up to this Test match and done a great job so it's a well-deserved debut.
"They are not bad players of spin but it's pretty important we go in with two spinners. It doesn't matter how good a player of spin you are, you still have to play well on the day.
"Any debutant is keen and he'll be ready and right at the Indian batsmen. We saw Krejza did well against India as an off-spinner and I think Swann can do a better job."
Swann recovered from his years in exile while Fletcher was coach to force his way into the one-day side under new coach Peter Moores. He impressed in the nets yesterday when England were given their first workout since returning from a week at home considering the security implications of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
But Pietersen is confident he can handle the challenge of facing India's talented batting line-up and take on talents like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh.
"It's going to be difficult but as a spin bowler he'll probably look forward to bowling out there," explained Pietersen.
"Certainly, as a batter you look forward to playing in India because of the wickets so I think it could work in his favour.
"Looking at the way Krejza bowled and Shaun Udal bowled for us the last time we were here, off-spinners have done all right here. It's something to look forward to and anyone who makes their debut they are really buzzing and really up for it.
"He's a good guy, he's always up, always bubbly and not a lot gets him down so let's hope he stays that way."
Asked about the decision to recall Prior, who struggled for runs during the one-day series several weeks ago, Pietersen added: "I think Matty Prior gives us a much better option with the bat.
"I'm really keen on his batting and I think he's improved tremendously with his keeping so it's about time he gets a run as well.
"The one-day series was a tough tour for everybody. The four weeks we were out here was pretty tough and he is not the only one who has lost a bit of confidence over the last month."
England team to face India:
Kevin Pietersen (captain, age 28, caps 43) - His first full Test series since taking over the England captaincy permanently is as tough as it comes and he will hope to better his relatively modest productivity on the 2006 tour with the bat.
Alastair Cook (23, 34) - Notched seven Test hundreds before his 23rd birthday, a feat bettered only by the eight of both Sir Donald Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar, including one on debut in Nagpur but has failed to add one in 2008 thus far.
Andrew Strauss (31, 53) - After an impressive start to his international career, the left-handed opener has managed just two hundreds in 23 Tests, both against a second-string New Zealand attack, and will need to address the slump.
Ian Bell (26, 43) - Struggling to rid himself of the tag of enigma following more than three years of Test cricket, the Warwickshire batsman responded to pressure for his place with a career-best 199 against South Africa in the summer.
Paul Collingwood (32, 39) - Dropped after more than two years in the side against South Africa last summer, he returned with a sixth Test match hundred after deciding to quit the England one-day captaincy and has good memories of India.
Andrew Flintoff (31, 70) - Led an injury-ravaged side to a respectable 1-1 draw on the last tour of India but has returned to the ranks following four ankle operations and began to show signs of his very best towards the end of the 2008 season.
Owais Shah (30, 2) - Fought the effects of cramp on debut to hit a match-shaping 88 in the Mumbai win two-and-a-half years ago which levelled the series, and his ability against spin was probably what earned him the recall ahead of Ravi Bopara. Misses out for the first Test but may come into consideration for the second.
Matt Prior (26, 10) - Earned a recall to the Test line-up following his high-profile omission earlier this year for poor glovework in Sri Lanka, which contrasted to his excellent batting against Muttiah Muralitharan and co.
Tim Ambrose (26, 10) - Took advantage of the axe falling on Prior for last winter's trip to New Zealand but failed to build on a maiden Test hundred there and was shorn of confidence by the second half of the 2008 summer and missed out for the start of the series.
Graeme Swann (29, 0) - Given his Test debut for the opener in Chennai having impressed during the one-day series before the troubles in Mumbai. Was chosen as the second spinner ahead of Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid due to his greater experience and complementing of left-armer Monty Panesar.
Stuart Broad (22, 9) - With three half-centuries to his name already, the Nottinghamshire youngster promises to develop into a genuine international-class all-rounder if he can up his levels of success with the ball in hand. Misses out on first Test due to hamstring strain sustained during one-day series.
James Anderson (26, 29) - Kept his place in England's Test line-up despite a dismal one-day series when he failed to claim a single wicket. Has enjoyed a good year in the longer format of the game and claimed 42 wickets in nine Tests.
Steve Harmison (30, 58) - Recalled for the final Test of the summer, the former number one bowler in the world returned the pace England's attack had been missing in victory over South Africa and will spearhead the attack on the subcontinent.
Monty Panesar (26, 33) - Has made steady progress as England's first-choice spinner since being given his head in India on the previous trip, highlighting his potential as a matchwinner on a number of occasions on his way to 114 victims.
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