Swann: We need better 'match swing'

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The Independent Online

Outplayed in their last two matches, England are not blind to where their problems lie as they attempt to keep alive their one-day series against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge in today's day-nighter. They have a plan to put matters right too, although it is not so straightforward as merely scoring runs or taking wickets.

It involves a factor to which Graeme Swann alluded yesterday, something called "match swing", which could be interpreted either as brilliantly insightful analysis or a statement of the obvious, depending on your point of view.

"It's a way we have of scoring the team's performance," Swann said. "It is based on things like wides and no balls and misfields, a measure of how disciplined we are. It is something that David Saker [England's fast bowling coach] brought in. The fewer free runs you give away, the better your match swing. He says that you can't win a game if you have a bad match swing.

"It is a way of making you think about discipline in your performance and how those things all add up. Our match swing in the last two games was bad, way off the charts in fact."

England's bowlers, in fact, sent down 28 wides in the three one-dayers against Sri Lanka so far (plus another 10 in the Twenty20 international), compared with 15 from the tourists' attack, so the scores thrown up by Saker's system are hardly surprising.

It might be argued, too, that England's continuing failure to score runs at the optimum 50-over tempo is a more serious shortcoming. The question of whether two such steady accumulators as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott can be accommodated simultaneously remains unanswered.

Swann conceded that England "could tweak the order a bit" but defended his colleagues nonetheless.

"You are always looking to score as quickly as you can in one-dayers and the benchmark is to get 300 because that usually wins the match," he said.

"I do think that reaching that benchmark with Trott and Cook in the first three is feasible. It has been highlighted in the last couple of games that we have not scored well in the powerplays but I think that has been more to do with a mixture of good bowling and trying to preserve wickets.

"I think the best top six batsmen in England are the ones batting for England at the moment. Whenever those guys go out I'd back them to score runs and at a decent rate as well."

England, Swann said, "aren't panicking" about their defeats at Headingley and Lord's, preferring instead to believe that a return to their match-winning form from the series opener at the Oval is close at hand. For that reason, on an anticipated bowler-friendly wicket – and with humidity likely to aid the ground's tradition for offering a swing factor of a more familiar definition – England are unlikely to make significant changes, although Steven Finn may come in for Jade Dernbach among the seamers.

Sri Lanka will not fret about the conditions as much as England might hope, even though their winning performances coincided with an improvement in the weather.

"When the sun shines it feels a lot better than drizzly rain and freezing cold," their coach, Stuart Law, said. "Even English players would agree with that and for the Sri Lankans you can multiply that by about 150."

Law is unimpressed by England's churlish reaction to the manner in which Angelo Mathews turned down runs to help 21-year-old Dinesh Chandimal achieve his century at Lord's. Cook, England's captain, even suggested "the gods of cricket" might look down with "disgust" at the two Sri Lankans' antics.

But Law said that those who saw their action as wrong were "more wrong" for condemning it, betraying a failure to understand the life-altering possibilities for a Sri Lankan who achieves success in cricket. "[For a young cricketer] it might be the difference between living on the streets and living in a house, things that over here we take for granted," he said.

Trent Bridge details

Probable teams

England A N Cook (capt), C Kieswetter (wkt), J L Trott, K P Pietersen, E J G Morgan, I R Bell, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, S C J Broad, J M Anderson, S T Finn.

Sri Lanka T Dilshan (capt), K Sangakkara (wkt), M Jayawardene, L Chandimal, S Kandamby, A Mathews, J Mendis, K Kulasekara, S Randiv, L Malinga, R Lakmal.

Umpires B Bowden (NZ) & N Llong (Eng).

Weather Sunny intervals, with spells of light rain. Maximum temperature: 19C

TV Sky Sports 1, HD 1, 1.30-10pm