Swann is spurred on by the fact that he is England’s most successful off-spinner in history
England off-spinner Graeme Swann, who is now the country’s most successful spinner, has revealed that he is “more interested in history than stats”.
Swann, who was a driving force for England in their historic 2-1 Test series win against India last year, surpassed Jim Laker as the leading Test wicket-taker among England spinners.
“I am more interested in history than stats, if that makes sense,” he said. “People who play the game with a desperation to average 40 or desperate to score a hundred against each team, things like that, personally I feel it is a selfish way to go about it.
“I love the fact that if your name is known and you are remembered in cricket history then statistics go out of the window. Nobody can tell you anyone’s average, apart from Don Bradman’s because that was exceptional.”
Swann also noted that keeping it simple was the best way to go instead of having a huge variety of mystery balls like a lot of the younger spinners do nowadays.
He also compared spin bowling to that of a game of chess, where it was simply the matter of getting inside your opponent’s head and keeping them under constant pressure.
“It is a lot of smoke and mirrors,” he said. “Everybody thinks if you are not a mystery spinner you can’t take wickets, but if you look at most wickets taken in the world the ball doesn’t do anything ridiculous. There might be one in ten. The batsmen just get themselves out. It’s like a game of chess when you are bowling. You just try to win as many battles as you can.”
The off-spinner also attributes his success to the fact that he is able to keep his cool during pressure situations.
“I can bowl at a guy in a county game and freed up from the pressure they are suddenly the best player in the world,” Swann added. “If you are not fazed by the pressure it plays into your hands.
“I am quite subdued when I bowl. I don’t say anything to the batsman. I don’t try to whip up a storm of excitement around the bat. But I hope they think I am working to a plan.”
However, Swann admits to becoming a lot more aggressive when errors are made in the field and while he has promised to cut down on the criticisms, he believes it will never happen anytime soon.
“It’s not so much dropped catches I get angry about,” he said. “I get exasperated if a catch is dropped. I get angry if players aren’t watching or are in the wrong place. Bowlers mess up in the field because they are not as athletic but batsmen don’t concentrate.”
Ending with a joke, Swann stated that he and wicketkeeper Matt Prior may be able to own their own farms after retiring from cricket since they spend a lot of time with captain Alastair Cook in the slips, who knows almost everything there is to operating a farm.
“Me and Matty Prior reckon we could have our own lambing season with all he has told us about putting his hand up sheep’s bottoms,” Swann said.