England ready for the kill: Swann
By Krishnakumar KH | ENS | Published: 12th December 2012 09:22 AM |
While it is a given that the pitch is central to a game of cricket, there has seldom been so much focus on the 22-yard strip as has been the case in the current India-England series.
And as the caravan shifted base to the VCA Stadium in Jamtha on Tuesday, the pitch for the series-deciding fourth Test is again the centre of attention.
But, having turned the tables on a bewildered India after losing the opening Test at Ahmedabad, are high-flying England bothered about what’s on offer from Thursday morning? By what curator Pravin Hinganikar is cooking up for Alastair Cook’s men?
Going by Graeme Swann, the world’s premier off-spinner at the moment, England are ready to move in for the kill, immaterial of how the VCA wicket behaves. They got the hang of playing spin — despite the loss — at Ahmedabad, took the opposition by the scruff of the neck on a rank turner at Mumbai and followed it up with a masterclass on what Swann called “an exceptional Test pitch” at Kolkata to banish any obsession there may have been with the pitch.
On their first training session here, England did not even bother to take a look at the wicket, Swann told reporters. “I haven’t seen the pitch yet. We went straight out to the nets. It doesn’t matter what you believe because the pitch is going to be the pitch, whatever happens, on Thursday morning. I am sure the management and coach will look at it and they will assess it. We play on it whatever comes on Thursday. It is normally a good pitch here and I am expecting it to be that. Whatever the pitch is, we have to try and win the game,” he said.
But one thing the wily spinner wants his team to do is to win the opening session.
“Come Thursday morning, it will be about winning the first session, something which we have managed to do in the last two Test matches and that is why we have gone on to win,” he said.
However, he does expect the wounded hosts to come back hard at them.
“I am sure India will come out actually fighting because they have to win the game. So I am sure we will approach the game positively because attack is our best form of defence and that has been proven in the last game,” England’s senior spinner said.
Complacency, he stressed, will not be allowed to set in, not with a famous series win in sight.
“Well, we haven’t beaten them in all conditions because we lost the first game in Ahmedabad. We are not taking them for granted. We don’t pat ourselves on the back and say ‘look how well we have played in the last two games’ because that is a very dangerous place to get in.
We obviously want to go home for Christmas having won the series 3-1,” he said.
Drawing parallels with England’s Ashes win last year, Swann said, “Our best victory in Australia in the Ashes last year was the last one in Sydney. Having already retained the Ashes it would have been very easy to drift in the last game but we managed to pull our best game of the tour there and win 3-1. It is a lot more satisfying as a team to finish the job off. We came out here to try and win the series and that is what we are trying to do.”
Justifying his pre-series stand that England could not expect spin alone to win the series for them, he said, “The spinners have taken wickets but you also see the totals we have posted in those games.
“The crux of it is that if you get 500 in a Test match, you are not losing a Test match, you are winning it from there. Without the monumental performances Cook, Pietersen and Trott in the last game we would not have been 2-1 up.”