Swann finally sets his alarms for debut

When hearing that they have been picked to make their Test debut most cricketers applaud the role of their parents and coaches, and talk about all the hard work they have put in to reach this momentous point in their career. Graeme Swann, bar any last-minute drama, will become the 641st Test cricketer to represent England this morning when Kevin Pietersen's side finally lines up against India here but the confident off-spinner puts his rise to the top down to something rather different, namely having two alarm clocks on his bedside table.

Swann, 29, has the air of a man who has been around for a while. The tag of senior pro, a figure in county cricket that has seen and done the lot, sits quite well on his shoulders. And Swann would probably have attained every cricketer's dream – a Test cap – much earlier but for a few indiscretions on his first tour with England in 1999-2000. Swann was 21 at the time and like many young cricketers who do not feature in the Test side, he enjoyed himself in South Africa. His joie de vivre did not go unnoticed by the England management and their patience all but broke when he missed the team bus one morning. Since that fateful day he has taken extra precaution so that it does not happen again.

"I now have two alarm clocks, which you need when you have the nasty combination I have on tour – finding it hard to fall asleep and then wake up in the morning," said Swann with a mischievous smile. "My timekeeping was an issue (behind me continually being overlooked) and it didn't help that I missed the team bus one morning when we had a bloke [Duncan Fletcher, the previous England coach] in charge who was pretty strict on discipline. With that I made a rod for my own back and I can have no complaints."

During Fletcher's reign – 1999-2007 – England used six different spinners and Swann was not one of them. In an attempt to change his image he moved from Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire and learnt his trade. He learnt how to behave too. And it was only when Peter Moores replaced Fletcher that Swann returned to the England fold. "Yes, I wrote my England career off a few years ago,"said Swann. "So it's great to have this opportunity now. I am delighted to be in the team. My negativity came from the fact that everyone who seemed to have the potential to bowl spin in the world was playing ahead of me, and when that happens you tend to think that your number was up.

"I didn't think I'd play for England in any form, so it was great when I got called up for the one-dayers 15 months ago. It was frustrating when I got called up for the Test tour of Sri Lanka and didn't play, but I knew that if I had a half-decent summer with Notts then I would have the chance to get out here where I would more than likely get a game." Swann, like each of England's bowlers faces a huge challenge over the next fortnight. Spin is bound to play an important role in the series but England's slow bowlers have had a mixed time in India. Before the 1980s England's spinners had a pretty good record here but since then they have found it tough going against an endless line of wonderful batsmen.

"Playing here doesn't daunt me," said Swann. "If anything it would be more daunting back at home because the wickets don't traditionally suit finger spinners. Spinners tend to have more of a say in the game over here. I'm just looking forward to playing; I think I'd be a lot more nervous if I was making my debut back home on a flat belter at The Oval. I don't expect the ground to be as packed as the one-dayers but it would be nice if 50,000 people turned up to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat and they left to go home after a couple of balls because he didn't get any runs."

Swann, wisely, did not suggest that he would get the "Little Master" before being asked whether he was really as confident as he appears. He replied: "Every man who appears confident on the outside is shitting like a big dog on the inside." With that he returned to his team-mates. The England and Wales Cricket Board yesterday confirmed that the second Test between India and England will take place in Mohali. A final decision had been delayed until up to date security reports had been made. Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England team said: "We are satisfied with the security plans that have been put in place and are looking forward to the second match being played there."

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks