• As an admirer of his pure, unadulterated bowling skills ever since I saw him make his debut against India at Chennai in December 2008, I was delighted when Graeme Swann picked up his maiden ten-wicket haul in Tests against Bangladesh at Chittagong. One is certain, it will not be his last for if anything the England off spinner is making rapid strides and his best is surely yet to come. 

     

    Off-spin has never been England's traditional strength, even though ironically they have produced arguably the greatest purveyor of this subtle art in Jim (19 for 90) Laker. The finest and most successful England bowlers have been those who hurtle them down at fearsome pace or swing the ball prodigiously. Even when it comes to spin bowling the best have been left armers like Hedley Verity, Tony Lock and Derek Underwood. 

     

    After Laker, there have been off spinners like David Allen, Fred Titmus, Ray Illingworth and John Emburey but none of them are in the outstanding category. Swann, however, I venture

    Read More »from Swann is made of sterner stuff
  • The Indian Premier League (IPL) is completing its first week but it would still take a brave man to predict the champion team of this edition. However, it is clear that all teams have taken on board certain ideas from the first two IPLs and seem more attuned to the demands of Twenty20 cricket.

     

    One of the most important lessons learnt over the last two seasons is that the best thing one can do is keep things simple. You can be guilty of over-planning, which is something I suspect happened with Kolkata Knight Riders. I think Brendon McCullum is good captaincy material because he has a shrewd cricket brain. However, confusing theories like the multiple-captain theory, controversies and over-planning saw the team flounder.

     

    The champion teams are led by two men who are extremely talented and believe in getting the basics right. In Season One, Shane Warne opted for players who were available for the whole season instead of going for superstars. This helped him immensely because while the

    Read More »from I would give the Chennai boys an edge
  • Graeme Swann's stock continues to rise with his 10 wickets against Bangladesh - and he now has to be regarded as the best spinner in the world.

     

    The key to his game is that he knows his art very well, and that can only come from years of hard graft and patience - in that sense, Swann has served his time and is now reaping the rewards.

     

    He has proven his quality against the world's best, and the next challenge for him will be to produce the goods in India, where he began his international career.

     

    If you look at the other spinners on the international circuit, you would have to say that Swann is the best out there at this moment.

     

    Danish Kaneria, Nathan Hauritz, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh: you would be hard-pressed to prove that any one of those players are better than Swann on current form.

     

    The England spinner has natural variation, magnificent control and flight, and a fine arm ball. He may not have a doosra, but often it is about mastering the basics

    Read More »from The world’s best spinner is English

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