We've been dismal since we reached No 1, admits Swann
06:40 GMT, 31 July 2012
Graeme Swann admitted England have been dismal since becoming the world’s No 1 Test team — a status they could relinquish at Headingley this week.
Andrew Strauss’s team head into the second match of this Investec Series against South Africa on the back of what Swann termed a ‘public humiliation’ at The Oval, knowing that a sixth defeat in 10 outings since reaching the pinnacle 11 months ago would see them deposed. As they have discovered, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
‘I don’t think as a unit it has affected us but I can’t deny the fact that since we’ve been No 1 we’ve a dismal record,’ Swann said. ‘Whether that goes hand in hand with being No 1, I don’t really know.
Not playing well: Graeme Swann says England have not played like a No 1 team for a while
‘You need someone more qualified with the workings of the human mind.
‘We’re not doing anything differently. Perhaps that’s it: perhaps we’re not evolving quickly enough. Maybe there’s another level after going to No 1 that we haven’t reached yet.
Perhaps teams are hunting us down more, seeing us as a real threat now rather than underestimating us.
‘We need to get to the point where no matter how plucky opponents are they’re always in a dying cause. We need to stay No 1. I’m very proud of the fact we got there.’
To do so, England need to instigate
the kind of turnaround they produced in the 2009 Ashes, when they
shrugged off a crushing innings defeat in Leeds to complete a 2-1 win.
Like back then, team director Andy Flower broke protocol last week to
call a post-match debrief in the dressing room.
Dominated: Dale Steyn celebrates and gestures after dismissing Swann for his fifth wicket
‘Sometimes the size 10 up the backside is what you need,’ said Swann.
‘It (the first Test) was a sort of public humiliation by the end of it, fielding that long and then getting skittled afterwards.’ Swann nevertheless believes England can hit back.
‘I am an eternal optimist and we can’t
possibly play as badly again. That meeting was very good, it brought a
lot of things to the surface.’
break from the usual routine saw England net yesterday afternoon, three
days out. In contrast, South Africa captain Graeme Smith landed back on
these shores from witnessing the birth of his daughter.
Thursday, Swann will make his 44th consecutive England appearance at a
ground upon which South Africa have triumphed on their previous two
visits. However, with a recurring elbow problem plaguing him, Swann
concedes he may have to rest at some point to avert the need for
Need to get better: Andrew Strauss and England could lose their No 1 spot if they are beaten in the second Test
‘If it keeps deteriorating I will undoubtedly have to miss some cricket. But it’s not really deteriorated in the last three or four weeks,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Swann is banking on Ravi Bopara to regain his England Test place. Bopara's defection from the squad for the upcoming Test came in mysterious circumstances, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing only unspecified 'personal reasons'.
'It is sad for Rav,' the spinner said. 'He's been in brilliant nick – stupendous form, I think, until the Test match obviously.
'I was backing him to score heavily this summer, because of the way he'd been playing in those one-dayers. He just seemed to have found something. He will be back – this won't be it, for him. I'd put my mortgage on it.'
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