General News | 27th February 2007
Graeme Swann has declared himself the man to rescue England from the doldrums . . . and is ready to prove it with a mountain of runs and wickets.
The all-rounder spent the winter watching from afar as his former team-mates were whitewashed in the Ashes and is keen to fulfil the undoubted talent that saw him selected for the tour of South Africa back in 1999-2000.
Itís not the first time the off-spinner has made the claim but on this occasion you get the feeling things could be different.
For one, the conclusion of this winterís busy international schedule after the World Cup would seem to herald a new cycle in Englandís development, as selectors will inevitably begin to look ahead to 2011.
Add in the fact that the chirpy 27-year-old is in good trim after working hard on his fitness in the off-season, and it looks like Swann is ready to back up his words with action.
ďI sat down to watch the cricket this winter and found myself desperately wanting to be involved with England,Ē he said.
ďIím not where I want to be, itís as simple as that. Iíve made a conscious decision to up the level of training and make that effort to get back in shape.Ē
Itís clear that Swann was just as frustrated and disappointed by the course of events in the winter as most England fans, and the extra drive in his eyes suggests heís determined to do something about it.
ďRealistically my first target has to be the one-day team. Monty Panesar seems to have secured his spot in the Test side but I think thereís an opportunity for me in one-day cricket if I start the season well,Ē he added.
ďA lot will depend on the fitness of the World Cup squad and how they perform in the competition, but all I can do is get myself as fit as possible and then put in the performances early on.Ē
Swann talked with director of cricket Mick Newell about how to make the most out of the upcoming season and their first aim was to get in shape for a full and productive summer.
The right-hander had three months of enforced rest before Christmas recovering from an elbow injury but spent the time constructively.
He said: ďIíve spent the winter trying to stay in as good a shape as I could. That meant staying active and keeping myself up and about, changing my diet and increasing the level of fitness work.
ďI was expecting to go to New Zealand and play for Canterbury but once my plans had changed, I tried to use the time constructively.
ďThe more work Iíve done the better Iíve felt and I know Iím stronger and fitter for the start of pre-season. So far everything is going in the right direction and Iím looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the squad.Ē