Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Well done Graeme Swann

The naming of Graeme Swann as ECB Cricketer of the year was thoroughly deserved after a fantastic 12 months for the Nottinghamshire spinner.

It is a personal reward that recognises his contribution to England's success, which has seen them reclaim the Ashes and win their first ICC trophy - the T20 World Cup.
He beat off competition from Stuart Broad, Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood and James Anderson – a strong category that reflected England's promising year.

So what about the stats? Well he snared 99 wickets at 26.26 and picked up five five-wicket hauls in 45 matches for England, across all forms of the game. His best effort was 5 for 28 against Australia at the Riverside last September in an ODI, after he played a key role in England's successful bid to reclaim the Ashes.

Following a career-best ten-wicket haul in the Chittagong Test against Bangladesh in March, he rose to become the world's number two bowler. As a batsman, he averaged over 25 with a top-score of 85 against South Africa in the first Test at Centurion in December.

But apart from being handy with both bat and ball Swann, out of all the England players, encapsulates the spirit of the side that is so key to its success. From the outside he appears carefree, the joker who never takes anything seriously. However, scratch the surface and you realise he is a fiercely determined cricketer who is grateful for the chance to represent his country after appearing to miss the international boat earlier in his career.

Swann doesn't have much time to savour his award as he prepares to take on Bangladesh in the first Test of the English summer. It is the start of a hectic calendar for the players with the Ashes series Down Under on the horizon. The cricket betting odds suggest England will have a tough time retaining the urn.

That is clearly on the minds of the selectors with Stuart Broad and Paul Collingwood rested for the first Test, while the inclusion of pacemen Steven Finn and Ajmal Shahzad shows the selectors are looking to find a pace bowler who can utilise those hard, bouncy pitches in Australia. I expect England to wrap up a series win against the Bangladeshis but far greater challenges lie ahead.

Meanwhile, in football news, the World Cup 2010 betting still makes England third favourites for the tournament despite an unconvincing win over Mexico on Monday night.

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