England should consider dropping Swann, says Alec Stewart

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“He is averaging 99 in the two Tests and is going at more than four an over with a strike-rate of about 140 balls per wicket”

Former England captain Alec Stewart has announced that the national team should consider dropping off-spinner Graeme Swann for the third Ashes Test in Perth, which gets underway on December 13.

Stewart’s comments come after Swann only took four wickets in the first two Tests at a horrendous average of 99.25.

“England have got to look at the make-up of the team,” Stewart said on The Ashes Breakfast. “Are they going to go in with just one spinner and will that be Swann or Panesar?

“Previously it was always going to be Swann but he is averaging 99 in the two Tests and is going at more than four an over with a strike-rate of about 140 balls per wicket.

“You could go in without a spinner and just have Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen as the back-up. It’s a brave decision but I think England have to do something slightly different. To leave Graeme Swann out of an England team is almost unheard of.”

Despite Australia left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson having tore through England and claimed 17 wickets in the first two Tests at a fantastic average of 12.70, Stewart believes England should not change their batting line-up.

However, he added that pace bowler Tim Bresnan must be included in the squad for the third Test.

“I’d suggest the top five will stay as it is,” he said. “Ben Stokes did enough at six and I would have thought he’d stay in the team.

“Tim Bresnan will definitely come in, that’s a given, but the question is whether they’ll bring in Gary Ballance or Jonny Bairstow, who have both gone to Perth already to play in a three-day game against Western Australia’s second team.

“They could then lengthen the batting with Matt Prior coming in at eight. They may look at going for Ballance at six, Stokes at seven and Prior at eight ahead of Bresnan, Broad and Anderson.

“You do leave yourself a little bit open if you leave a spinner out but it will definitely be something that the selectors will discuss.

“England have backed themselves very much on the continuity of selection but they haven’t been in this position – 2-0 down – for a very, very long time.

“It’s the batting that has fallen by the wayside and they’ve got to look at that. Are they going to forego a spinner to lengthen the batting and play four out-and-out seamers?

“Swann is probably England’s best slip fielder. If he didn’t play, then who is going to stand at second slip? These are the types of conundrums the selectors will look at.

“Whatever they do they have to make sure that the players believe they can win because, as Alastair Cook said, if you don’t believe you might as well pack your bags and go home now.”

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