Performance in the Ashes should no longer be the yardstick to judge the England team, feels Graeme Swann who says England must aspire beyond the Ashes as ‘Australia are not the best team in the world anymore’.
The former England spinner said beating India in India would now be a higher achievement considering their performances in recent times, and added that England need to have the right setup to overcome the spin challenge.
“England always saying ‘well the Ashes are coming up’. B***ocks to that. If you want to be the best team in the world, let’s be the best team all over the planet, not just trying to beat Australia away. We have to move away from looking forward to the Ashes series. It’s a mentality ingrained in this country. Australia are not the best team in the world anymore. They used to be, by miles, and they were the benchmark to strive for,” Swann told The Sun.
“They’re not now, but we’re obsessed with this. I think beating India in India is a far higher thing to strive for right now. They’re virtually unbeatable in India since we beat them in 2012. Why isn’t that the whole thing? Why aren’t people saying ‘right, this is a chance to get this team with good players of spin, use their feet, change the whole way we face spin bowling, and then we can beat India’.”
Swann was one of the key performers in England’s 2-1 series win in India in 2012, along with Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook. He picked up 20 wickets in that series while Panesar bagged 17. Cook scored 562 runs in the series, including three hundreds and a highest of 190 while Pietersen, who dominated the Indian spin attack in that series, finished with 338 runs including two hundreds.
The offspinner reckoned England needed quality spinners and someone of the class of Pietersen to beat a formidable Indian side at home.
“We’re not going to beat India unless spinners are taking wickets, and then we’ve got someone batting like we had with Kevin Pietersen. He changed the way England had ever played against spin. He was ultra-aggressive. Let’s face it KP was a brilliant player and he batted unbelievably well there. We haven’t done it since, we haven’t learnt from how Kev batted on that trip and haven’t gone on and used that as the blueprint,” said Swann.