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Exclusive interview: India out-bowling England, says Graeme Swann

first_imgShadows of the 2011 whitewash are quickly vanishing as India puts up a much more spirited performance against England this time around in 2014. It’s been a compelling series, one where India have had their noses ahead, drawing at Trentbridge and now with looking to make a bigger impact at Lord’s. England is no longer the force it was in 2011. So is this India’s best chance to win in England and exorcise the dark ghosts of 2011. Recently retired English spinner Graeme Swann feels it’s all about the pitches.In an exclusive conversation with Shivani Gupta, Swann said, “It is perhaps India’s best chance to win in England. That’s perhaps a very astute comment. India is out-bowling England, putting balls in the right places.””Pitches are not supporting England. They don’t play the same as they used to, not the same as the ones that James Anderson and Stuart Broad thrive on. But India is missing a trick by not playing Ashwin. With two spinners in the second innings they could be better off.”The English itself are facing the heat, not having a won a Test in their last nine matches, equaling a win-less run from more than two decades ago. Can this team beat India?”Team is in transition. Lots of names not there anymore – Pietersen, Trott and me. If the wickets were similar to 2011, England  would win because of their superior seam bowling. But this is where the problem is. Such is the lack of traditional English wickets, that when they do get it like the first day at Lord’s, bowlers were so eager to cash in that they bowled poorly. India out-bowled us. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was exceptional. It’s strange that India did better in conditions tailor-made for England. The team in 2011 could beat this India team, of course because I was in it,” he adds with a laugh. advertisement”I won’t say the England team is unraveling now, it has already unraveled since Australia. It’s a team with a new coach, the captain is in a beleaguered position. Lots of people are questioning him. He needs to forget about it and concentrate on scoring runs and everything else will take care of itself.””I know Alastair Cook very well. He’s a very stubborn individual, he won’t be listening, but the more people bang the drum, the louder the noise. Especially the England press is very much like the Indian press. When India doesn’t do well, they go after Dhoni, same here with Cook.’So the big question is – what is wrong with the pitches? Why is England not being able to take advantage of home conditions? Clearly, its not just about being ‘good hosts’ or groundsmen having their own minds.Swann says he has just the answer.”I’ll tell you exactly what’s happening. All the drainage systems put into Test venues over the last few years have sucked all the moisture out. I’ve  been saying this for 2-3 years – at every ground, wickets are getting drier and drier. The Oval is very dry now, spins square there.””Everyone said last year that groundsmen were doctoring wickets to suit me during Ashes, which is flattering?, but really it’s become difficult to keep moisture in the ground. It’s like pouring a glass of water on a sandpit.””I feel for Trentbridge’s pitch marked poor for last week. The groundsmen are actually battling against the grounds at the minute. They are scratching their heads. This wicket at Lord’s too started wet but it’s bone dry now.”Finally, Swann says he has been most impressed with the young Indian batting lineup.”Rahane’s century in the first innings was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. He must have seen the wicket on the first day and felt like he’s batting on moon, it must have been so alien.””I want to see Virat Kohli bat well. He’s one of my favorite batsmen to watch, not bowl against, and he hasn’t fired yet. And Shikhar Dhawan as well who is a wonderful player. Two guys I thought will be the lynch pins of Indian batting are not contributing yet India is scoring good runs.”Shivani GuptaFollow @shivanigupta_5last_img read more