Graeme Swann: Wrist-spinners are potential match-winners

Former England spinner Graeme Swann believes that the current England team has not been using the services of spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali properly.

Yuzvendra Chahal (left) and Kuldeep Yadav have been off-colour against India but have been very effective for India throughout World Cup 2019.   -  AP

When Graeme Swann broke into the England team years ago, it was not easy to make his presence felt. With the focus still on the pacers, an off-spinner had to wait for his moment of glory.

But in his five years on the international stage, Swann made turned things his way. By the time he quit in 2013, he had 255 Test wickets, 104 ODI wickets and 51 T20I wickets in his kitty.

Now, as the 40-year-old looks at the current England team, he feels that spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid should be utilised better.

In an interview with Sportstar on Monday, Swann spoke on a range of issues…


In this World Cup, spinners have played a key role. What are your thoughts on that?

In one-day cricket all over the world, spinners play a vital role. I like when there are two bowling partnerships in the middle to complement each other. Spinners will always do well in one-day cricket. The captains’ drive for applying pressure, adding pressure to getting through over rates… yeah, I prefer spin more than anything else, so I’m always going to say that.


England too has focused on spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali…

England has got two good spinners, but I don’t think they treat them properly. They should bowl in tandem; they are much better, they adapt a lot better than their counterparts but they don’t do that. I think they should get back to it because all the best one-day teams have two spinners bowling in tandem.


Despite starting as favourite, why do you think England found itself in a topsy-turvy situation during the league stage?

Yeah, well they have. It’s because they didn’t play their natural game. The game they played for two or three years to get to world No.1 was very aggressive. They had a lot of self-belief. Jason Roy coming back into the team (against India on Monday) reaffirmed that to everyone. He showed them how to play cricket and it was wonderful to see. They were brilliant, but in the previous games in the World Cup -- aside from the South Africa game -- I think they’ve looked a shadow of their former self.


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What do you think was not working for the team? Is the side over-dependent on Jason Roy?

It was the dependency, but not the runs. It’s the general attitude, its the swagger, the belief that anything is possible. I think they started questioning that, started thinking “Oh the wickets aren't great, the press is saying we need a Plan B.” Jason Roy showed that you don’t listen to anyone else apart from yourself.

According to Swann, a spin partnership is always effective for teams in modern-day cricket.   -  Getty Images


There was a time when spin was a run-restricting act, but now it’s become a game-changing weapon. How do you see that?

That’s because spinners used to bowl just to restrict runs, you gotta restrict the leg side, you dart it through, the game is completely changed. Spinners have genuine wicket-taking powers.


How are today’s spinners different from those earlier?

I couldn't really tell you overall. Different generations. When I grew up, spinners used to just restrict runs and stick to the leg-side. Spinners are wicket takers, so people who have grown up playing one-day and T20 cricket will try to take wickets because that’s how you win games.


Who do you think are potential match-winners in this generation?

All the wrist-spinners are potential match-winners. Finger-spinners generally tie people down and the best finger spinners always pick one or two wickets. But they get wickets for the leg-spinners, for them winning the match is getting four or five. That's why spinners should always play as a partnership.

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What do you make of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal?

The way England played with them on Sunday is the way you have to play spinners. If you allow the spinners to bowl with a reputation or win the battle, they are very hard to get away. But England dominated them by being ultra positive or Jason Roy did anyway. After Roy was out, I didn't think that England played the spinners that well. But up until that point, they completely disabled their potency.


It’s been a long wait for England to win its first World Cup. Do you think it’s coming home this time around?

If they believe in themselves and play like they did against India (on Sunday), England will win the World Cup. They can, they will win it. If they question themselves at all, then they’ve got a couple of tough games ahead.

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