‘It’s going really, really well for me and i will look back on 2009 fondly for a long time’ — Swann

2009-12-31 00:00

GRAEME Swann has quickly become the Proteas’ arch nemesis, and the bubbly off-spinner hopes that the trend will continue.

After successive man-of-the-match performances, Swann’s stock has risen to the point where his mere presence signals a Protea wicket.

Four times now, he has begun different spells with a wicket in his first over: a startling statistic for any bowler, let alone a mere “finger-spinner”.

“It’s going really, really well for me at the minute, and I will look back on 2009 fondly for a very long time,” the England joker revealed.

Swann’s influence was described by captain Andrew Strauss as “immense”.

“Obviously the wickets and runs are vital on the field, but ‘Swanny’ has been vital in the dressing room as well. He has allowed a few of the other lads to come out of their shells with his personality, and it is exactly the kind of atmosphere we are trying to create as a team going forward.”

Swann’s performances have capped something of a revival for finger spinners, but he was quick to point out that cricket goes in cycles.

“I know that in a few years a new mystery spinner will come about, and that will see me confined to being last year’s news again,” he cheekily added.

On a serious note, though, the man from Nottingham has twirled a web around some of South Africa’s biggest players that they are struggling to emerge from.

“Swanny’s biggest strength is that he is an attacking spinner, not content with just going for two runs an over,” Strauss said.

“So it makes our lives much easier when he contributes two or three wickets even in the first innings, which is rare for a spinner in Test cricket.”

Certainly, the Proteas have not yet found the answer to combat Swann’s direct approach, and Graeme Smith said it has been a source of concern.

“It’s frustrating because the way we have played spin has been a strength of ours in recent times. But he has bowled very well behind a very precise pace attack, and that creates pressure for batsmen.”

The Proteas will have to find a new approach as they head to Cape Town, which is regarded as the most spinner-friendly of the local tracks.

Swann will be licking his lips at the prospect of more success against a team with their backs against the wall.

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