Swann outlines England's ODI goal

Graeme Swann said England have shown some improvement but they have to continue that if they want to be the best in ODIs Getty Images

London: Sep 8, 2011

Beating India in the current series will not be enough and England will have to upstage Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men in their own backyard as well to reach the number one spot in ODIs, says spinner Graeme Swann.

“Our official ranking is five and I don’t think we can argue with that,” the English off-spinner told Sky Sports News.

“We have shown some improvement recently but we have to continue that if we want to be one of the best teams. We have to beat teams like India, not just in this series, but when we go away to play them as well,” he said.

England lead an ongoing five-match series 1-0 after the opening match was rained out. The hosts have already dethroned India as the world’s number one Test side.

Swann, meanwhile, was all praise for his skipper Alastair Cook, who scored a match-winning 80-run knock in the second ODI.

“He’s just letting his bat do the talking. It is very good for Cooky. He works very hard on his game, no-one works harder on his game although Kevin Pietersen might tell you differently,” he said.

“It is brilliant that it is paying off for him. He was written off – he’s even hitting sixes these days. So you never know, hell might freeze over,” he added.

The off-spinner said his team is motivated as India’s One-day squad is fighting well, unlike its performance in the Test series, which it lost 0-4.

“A few of the younger guys who have come in, have a fairly carefree attitude and it’s working for them. Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya (Rahane) are batting fantastically at the moment and they are looking almost carefree when they go out.

“We have been provided with new challenges and it doesn’t feel like the same team we played 3-4 weeks ago. It looks as if we are still learning about the opposition so I wouldn’t see we go into the middle thinking we are going to trounce them today,” he said.

The change in the mindset of India’s ODI players is reflected in the approach of Suresh Raina, who got a pair in the fourth Test at the same venue but returns here having smashed 40 off 19 balls in the second ODI at Southampton.

“I don’t know if the change of format is the reason. Sometimes you wake up and feel you are going to smash the bowlers around. But he (Raina) certainly has been very exciting for the Indian team in the last couple of games. Some of his shots were spectacular to watch even from outside.”

As far as the stand-out batsman from India is concerned, Swann’s pick was Rahul Dravid.

“Rahul Dravid all summer has batted superbly. It’s not just against our spinners but against all our bowlers. He has been the in-form batsman all summer and personally for me, a joy to watch.

“Before I was in England team, I enjoyed watching him.

There is so much elegance about him and not all players are blessed with it. If somebody has to get runs for them, I would rather like it to be him,” he said.

Swann also said that India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s reputation should not take a beating despite the side’s listless display in the Test series.

“There’s only so much you can blame him. He did everything. He was the form batsman by the end of the Test series. He kept, he bowled. Any criticism of him can be fairly harsh for he got India where they were. We still see him as a formidable opponent and a very good captain,” said Swann.

Indians have a reputation of playing spin well but Swann does not think it necessary to rethink his strategy.

“I wouldn’t say Indians play spin well as a sweeping statement. Some of them are very good. I don’t have any tricks or trade secrets. I try to be as consistent as I can be and have plans to get these players out. It doesn’t change.

“I have no new tricks. I am happy with what I have got. I just go out and try to stick to basics. I can bowl carom balls but with my action it would be the most obvious thing. I did get out Mark Ramprakash with it once though.”

England have on and off tried the left-arm spin of Samit Patel but Swann doesn’t think spin, as a pair, works too well in one-day cricket.

“In Tests, you can work as a pair. In ODIs, I am quite selfish and try to bowl my spells. I have a lot to worry about my figures than to think about others.”

The two outstanding features of England’s win in the ODI at Southampton was Swann’s bowling — he picked up three wickets — and an unbeaten 80 from skipper Alastair Cook.

“It was a very good batting wicket and the ball wasn’t spinning or seaming. The outfield was quick. Spinners are always like to pick odd wickets in these matches when batsmen are trying to hit.

“As for Cook, he hasn’t surprised a lot of guys in the dressing room — may be a few in the press box.”(PTI)