Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann was one of the finest spinners modern-day cricket has ever seen. Swann’s control over the delivery, the way he used to give flight, and his habit of continually dropping the ball at the right spot made him one of the most lethal spinners of the game.
The Northampton-born featured in 60 Tests for England in which he grabbed 255 wickets. Seventeen times Swann took a five-wicket haul, whereas fourteen times he earned a 4-wicket haul.
Recently, he participated in a SkySports podcast hosted by Rob Key which also featured England’s current spin bowler, Dom Bess, where they discussed off-spin bowling.
During the chat, Swann talked about the pressure thing in Test cricket and said it is easy to bowl at an international level rather than in a county game, mainly if the batsman is the same.
“Pressure, the mental side of Test cricket actually makes it I think easier to bowl in Tests rather than in county cricket and especially against the same batsman you might bowl at in a county game.”
Swann gave the example of India legend Rahul Dravid and said he made him feel like an 11-year-old off-spinner when he played against him in county cricket. Swann went on to add that he never saw a better player than Dravid.
“Rahul Dravid was a big one for me; I bowled against him in Kent, and he was unbelievable. I’ve never seen a better player in my life. He would never get out in a county game, and that’s Rahul Dravid, one of the best in the world, and he made me feel like an 11-year-old spinner.”
It was in the year 2008 when Swann debuted in the red-ball format against India, and in the very first over of his career, Swann dismissed Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid.
Getting Dravid was indeed a special feeling as Swann had played against ‘The Wall’ in county cricket. The offie even admitted that the delivery he bowled in that Test (which got Dravid) was a great ball, but it wouldn’t get Dravid out.
“I got him out, admittedly it was a great ball, but it would not have got Rahul Dravid out usually.”
The former English veteran also heaped praises on legendary South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis. He said that when you become an established bowler, most of the batsmen play you as a reputed bowler rather than focusing on the ball, but Kallis was not like that at all.
“Ninety per cent of batsmen, especially as you get more wickets, will start playing you as the bowler rather than the ball. But, there was one guy who never fell for it was Jacques Kallis.”
“He (Kallis) would just stand there, deadpan, play every ball on its merits, no matter how much you puffed out your chest. He looked like he was staring 50 yards over your head. I could never rattle him,” Swann concluded.