Swann rides crest of a wave to writers' award

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The Independent Online

By way of completing a meteoric rise to overnight stardom which took 10 years to complete, Graeme Swann was yesterday named as England's cricketer of the year. Since resuming an international career which seemed set to stall at one match, Swann has taken the game by the scruff and has simply grown more and more into his role as off-spinning all-rounder and all-round cheery chappie.

He was an integral part of England's Ashes-winning series last summer and was equally prominent in their recent World Twenty20 triumph. In all, Swann (right) took 99 wickets across the three formats of the game, 58 of them in Test matches at 30.10 runs each, deeply impressive for a finger spinner in the modern game. He also scored 521 Test runs at 34.73, mostly by taking the attack to the opposition.

Swann played a sole one-day international for England in early 2000 and was not then picked again until late 2007, eventually making his Test debut the following autumn. England's successful year meant that his name did not quite go through on the nod for the award. Andrew Strauss, who rescued the side from the ignominy of a divided dressing room when he took over, was an obvious candidate as Ashes-winning captain.

The fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad and ever-present Test batsman and victorious T20 captain Paul Collingwood also had their supporters. But Swann, 31, it was who acquired most votes in a poll of the cricket press.

"I am absolutely delighted to win this award," said Swann, for once not managing a quip. "It's been a magical year for me with so many high points. I love playing for England and hope this can be a stepping stone for even greater things, both personally and as part of a successful England team.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team-mates for the support they've given me on and off the field over the last year. As I'm sure you can see from the pictures on TV we work hard as a team and take real pleasure in each others' successes. The atmosphere and bond we have in the dressing room at the moment makes winning that much sweeter."

Swann received his award at a dinner in the Lord's Long Room last night, hosted by the new team sponsor Brit Insurance who, presumably, can hardly believe their luck at entering the arena at such a heady time. The women's cricketer of the year, for the second time, was fast bowler Katherine Brunt, who was instrumental in England's victory in the World Twenty20 last summer.

Chris Edwards, who opens the batting for the England Learning Disability side, won the Disability Cricketer of the Year award.

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