Swann: The Phoney War Is Over
Featured News | 21st July 2011
England spinner Graeme Swann is looking forward to the main event of the summer, declaring "the phoney war is over" after a low-key start to the domestic season.
The Test series against Sri Lanka was undermined by frequent rain delays and disappointing ticket sales, with England securing a 1-0 victory courtesy of one inspired session in Cardiff.
A four-match series against India, starting at Lord's today, takes things up a notch, with the world No.1 status up for grabs – England must win by two Tests to take the mantle – as well as the landmark 2,000th Test to celebrate.
Swann believes the contest is second only to the Ashes for England and is looking forward to testing himself in another high-profile battle.
"The second half of the English summer always feels like the cricket season has really arrived now," said Swann.
"The phoney war is over, so to speak, and it's down to real business. It's not to disrespect Sri Lanka by saying that, but this is the major draw of the summer.
"The Australia series should be viewed as a separate entity and there is nothing for an Englishman or an Australian to rival the size of that series.
"But this is as close as you're going to get at the moment. India are the number one team in the world and they've got there through merit.
"There's no way to cheat those rankings.
"Whether it will be tougher than Australia is hard to say; going to Australia and winning 3-1 there was probably the toughest series I've played in."
Sachin Tendulkar looms large over the series as he attempts to become the first player in history to score a hundred international centuries. He is currently on 99 and, having never added his name to the famous Lord's honours board, will be desperate to bring up his ton at the home of cricket.
Swann, though, has warned against focusing too much attention on the 'Little Master'.
"It would be very, very risky to focus all our energies on one player," said the Notts man.
"Sure, he's the best player of the modern generation but if we focus on one guy, another will sneak in the back door and take it away from us.
"In MS Dhoni they have possibly the most charismatic player India has ever had, with the sway he holds in that country now.
"I think he is the most important player in their team now. He leads from the front, is a very dangerous cricketer and if we can get at anyone, then he is probably the key man."
The arrival of India's new coach Duncan Fletcher is also interesting for Swann. It affords him the opportunity to showcase the skills that have made him the top spinner in world cricket to a man who left him in international exile for seven years after an unimpressive maiden tour in 2000.
Yet Swann says there is no issue between him and the former England coach.
"A lot of people perceive me and Duncan to have an ill-tempered relationship. We don't at all; we don't have any relationship," he said.
"When I was first picked I was nowhere near good enough and no matter who the coach was, it wouldn't have made a difference. I certainly don't bear any grudges to Duncan."
England face a decision between out-of-form Stuart Broad and the fit-again Tim Bresnan for the final place.
Trent Bridge star Broad is favourite to get another chance despite a below-par showing against Sri Lanka and Bresnan was supportive of his rival.
"He has bowled well. He's bowled good spells and possibly not had the luck," said the Yorkshireman.
"You do need a lot of luck as a seam bowler sometimes and Stuart is a fantastic bowler, a fantastic cricketer.
"His record shows that and he deserves to be there."
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Tickets are now on sale for England's npower Test against India at Trent Bridge beginning on Friday 29th July. Click here to visit our online ticket office.
Day one (Friday 29th July) SOLD OUT
Day two (Saturday 30th July) SOLD OUT
Day three (Sunday 31st July) Very limited availability
Day four (Monday 1st August) Good availability - free day five ticket with every purchase