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How Fletcher’s disapproval of Swann worked out well for the spinner

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Graeme Swann, the former England spinner, has spoken about his early years as an England international, and how Duncan Fletcher’s dislike for him, which resulted in seven years out of international cricket, worked to his benefit.

Swann made his ODI debut in 2000, as a 20-year-old, against South Africa in Bloemfontein but didn’t play another international till 2007. It was only in 2008, when he made his Test debut against India in Chennai, that his England career took off.

That had much to do with the resignation of Fletcher as England coach in 2007, with Swann saying he “did not take a shine to me”, and that plenty of others “who were not as good as me” got picked ahead of him. When Peter Moores took over the role, Swann excelled under a coach he was familiar with.

“I was picked for the England tour of South Africa [in 2000] when I was 19-20 years old, on the back of the Under-19 World Cup,” Swann told Sony Ten Pit Stop. “I wasn’t really good enough at the time, but England cricket were at the bottom of the world rankings, had a new captain, new coach, it was all change.

“I was picked as this young up-and-coming player who no one had heard of, and to be honest. I don’t really believe in my head that I was good enough then. The best thing for me – Duncan Fletcher didn’t like me at all, did not take a shine to me, and while he was in charge of England, I wasn’t anywhere near playing.

“A lot of other guys played, who were not as good as me, who hadn’t got as good a record as me, and I’d written it [England career] off. I thought I was never going to play, and I was concentrating on a professional career [in] county cricket, trying to get into the media … and loving it, to be honest. There was no pressure of where it might go.”

Despite his absence from the international circuit for seven years, Swann said he became better and more confident as a bowler in the interim. “It was only when Duncan Fletcher got the sack from England and a new coach came in – Peter Moores, and I’d always done well, with Moorsey at the ‘A’ team – all of a sudden, I found myself back involved,” he said.

“By that stage, I’d played a lot more cricket, got a lot more involved, and bowed a lot more overs, and was more sure of myself, and [was] sure that, ‘Yeah, I could do this.’”

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