Swann no longer looks like a duck out of water

Unless specifically informed otherwise, it is safe to assume that England are perpetually searching for another spin bowler or a different wicketkeeper. The latest two to be plucked out in each category are, respectively, Graeme Swann and Philip Mustard, whose displays in the first one-day international against Sri Lanka on Monday have begun to assume a titanic hue, since the tourists' performance in other areas was so worryingly ponderous.

Mustard was making his international debut and while his 27 from 17 balls and one stumping was not quite the stuff dreams are made of, it showed enough of the cut of his jib to satisfy all onlookers.

Swann perhaps had a harder task, for several reasons: international finger spinning is tough and getting tougher; he was replacing Monty Panesar who, whatever his form, has an iconic public status; and he was returning after one cap nearly eight years ago.

The nerves settled quickly. His first international ball for England since 23 January 2000 at Bloemfontein spat and twitched with the venom of a snake in the nearby forests. The rest of his spell was as probing and mature as could have been expected given the high quality of the opposition and he also scored 24. Swann is now the hot favourite to return as the second spinner in the Test series in December.

He was first picked in an England squad for The Oval Test in 1999 and went on the tour to South Africa that winter. It is fair to say that once there, he covered himself in opprobrium rather than glory.

"I can't remember any specific instances of wrongdoing apart from missing the coach a couple of times," he said. "I was 20, very naïve about cricket and life and it taught me a hell of a lot. When people come up and ask what you did wrong and you can't put your finger on it you realise you probably weren't ready.

"So it's probably the best thing that happened to me, in a perverse sort of way, and I'm glad because I'm a far better cricketer for it."

It is also perverse then that his best season as a cricketer remains that of when he was 20. He has never done better than his 57 wickets and 727 runs that season. But Swann did not look an ugly duckling on Monday night and that is a large part of the international battle. He may already have glided into a place later in the winter.

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
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf