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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK

England need Swann to strutt

Graeme Swann's "cocky streak" could benefit England

One thing that will not be lacking in Graeme Swann's game this winter is confidence.

"Too cocky," say some; "the arrogance of youth," say others.

Whichever way, the only ones who could possibly benefit are England.

The typical line from county professionals is that he wants to concentrate on his performances for his club and that, should an international call-up come along, then so much the better.

Swann is different. Ever since watching Ian Botham on the telly as a goggle-eyed kid, all he has ever wanted to do, he says, is play for England.

He nearly did last summer when he was selected for the Oval Test before being omitted from the final XI. Now is his chance.

Encouraging season

"I was confident of being picked for the tour party," Swann said.

"I had been taking wickets and was involved at the Oval. It was disappointing not to have played but I got a feeling for it. It's the next step up.

"County cricket is relaxed compared to Test cricket where everything is on a much bigger scale, the crowds, the intensity, the media interest.

"Last season went well. I changed my angle and speed of approach in bowling.

"It's a little slower now, perhaps with a bit more spin, but basically I had greater consistency. It was a joint decision with Bob Carter, the Northants coach. We tried a few things and that was the most successful.

"The batting went okay. I didn't score as many four-day runs as I would have liked - I was maybe 300 runs short of where I should have been and I had a bit of a lean patch in the middle of the season, but I was pleased with my one-day form throughout."

Unconventional treatment

It is as a Test all-rounder, however, that England desperately need Swann to make his mark.

As an off spinner, only Jason Brown, his Northants team-mate, gives the ball a bigger rip. So much so that Swann had to keep his index finger dipped in a pot of urine last summer to cure a sore that was not healing.

As a batsman he can be both majestic in his timing of the ball and infuriating in his ability to get himself out to meaningless wafts outside off stump.

He will not want for confidence from the location of the tour, either.

"I have good memories of South Africa, winning the England Under-19 World Cup and then the A tour there last year," he said.

"The wickets tend to be a bit harder which is good for a spinner and I've scored runs there in the past."

It is only the future that counts from now.

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