England treat spinners as third-class citizens: Graeme Swann

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England treat spinners as third-class citizens: Graeme Swann

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SportsCafe Desk

11/03/2016

Graeme Swann has lambasted the 'English way' of treating spinners, painting a grim picture of how England will struggle in the upcoming series against India. Swann has lamented how England never take spinners seriously and then moan about lack of quality spinners when they lose in the subcontinent.

"Me and Monty were freaks of nature, we grew up in Northants where the pitches used to rag square, but I moved [to Nottinghamshire] because I wanted to become a better bowler on non-turning pitches.

"We don't take spin seriously in this country, and then bemoan the fact that we haven't got world-class spinners when we go to the subcontinent.

"We've got a bloody good team with bloody good cricketers, but we will lose in India because of what has happened 20 years before. We are hamstrung by the fact that we treat spinners as third-class citizens," Swann said during the launch of BT Sport's cricket coverage, reported ESPNcricinfo.

The 37-year-old, who had picked up 255 wickets in 60 Test matches for England, has revealed how Duncan Fletcher's rejection turned him into a better bowler.

"Duncan Fletcher did a lot of good for English cricket - he and Nasser Hussain deserve a lot of credit for helping the game become ultra-professional - but spin bowling always lagged behind," said Swann. "The best thing Fletcher did for me was not picking me for eight years, even though he did pick guys who I thought weren't as good as me. It actually made me a better spinner. I taught myself to bowl because I was unsullied by the system," he explained.

Swann has criticized how the English spinners are used in county cricket and the lack of infrastructure in place to develop these budding spinners.

"You've still got 18 county captains who don't trust their spinners. It's the English way. An over before lunch, two before tea and six before the new ball. That's it.

"There is no sort of system in place to provide the backing that spinners need. From the day they arrive in county cricket to the day they play in Tests, it's not there. It is for batting, for bowlers, for fielding, for fitness, for nutrition … but not for spin bowling. And because of that, we are bad players of spin. It's a whole melting pot," he added.

England have appointed former Pakistani spinner Saqlain Mushtaq as a mentor ahead of their tour to India, however, Swann believes that these short-term solutions would never work. He pointed out how the previous appointment of Mushtaq Ahmed never worked out according to the plans.

"For me, Mushy was a brilliant sounding board and a mentor, but he only used to do 40 days a year. He'd be there for a couple of weeks, then he'd go home before the second Test. But there'd still be a nutritionist or a psychologist on the tour.

"I know there's only one of me, but it's stupid. I've always bemoaned that, but until we take it seriously, we have to accept that when we play away from home in spin conditions we will be shown up," Swann said.

England suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of Bangladesh last month as the hosts came back to tie the 2-match series at 1-1. Swann has said that the result should set the alarm bells ringing.

"On paper, Bangladesh are one of the two worst Test teams in the world, but they saw England - a bastion of the game - coming out to play and knew exactly how to beat us, by having turning pitches, simple, and picking an 18-year-old to win it.

"If that doesn't set off alarm bells in the upper echelons of the game, then we really are pig-headed. It's like that Blackadder quote: 'If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through!'

"In England, it will take you until you are 28 to bowl the amount of overs that an 18-year-old will have bowled in Bangladesh or India. These kids will have been bowling 30 overs a day since 11 to 12, because the conditions dictate that you can't bowl seam all the day. It's why they play spin better and bowl spin better. It's like playing the piano. After you've done it for 15 years, you can bang out a decent bit of Chopin," Swann explained.

Swann believes England will not be able to handle the Indian spinners in the upcoming series. He said, "I don't think we've got a cat in hell's chance, seeing how [Ravi] Ashwin and [Ravi] Jadeja bowl. Jadeja doesn't spin the ball, he doesn't try to. He just bowls straight and lets Ashwin do the work. Ashwin isn't a massive turner of the ball, he rarely bowls his carrom ball, but he's very, very accurate. Every Test in India he goes into, he believes he's going to win it."  

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