Ageing off-spinner Graeme Swann insisted yesterday that England are not too old to defend the Ashes, saying the team’s mix of youth and experience is an asset.
More than half of the touring side to Australia are older than 30, including key players Ian Bell (31), James Anderson (31), Kevin Pietersen (33) and Swann (34). But Swann, who has 248 Test wickets from 57 matches, said any “Dad’s Army” jibes were misplaced.
“I don’t think we need to worry about the age of the team — I think I’m the oldest,” he said on the England and Wales Cricket Board website. “It’s not like we’re all pushing the boundaries. If the oldest player is that age, it’s not like you’re all ready for the Home Guard yet.”
Yorkshire trio Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance, Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and Steven Finn add a youthful edge to the squad and Swann said: “I think we’ve got an exciting blend of youth and experience at the minute.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m confident going into this Ashes series.” Swann revealed that England’s tofu and goji-infused diet, which Australian media mercilessly attacked when the dietary demands became known on Friday, was partly motivated by the ageing squad.
“Some of us have to take it quite seriously because we’re getting on a bit, and if we don’t eat healthily we tend to pile on the pounds,” he said. “It’s all very good healthy stuff so I’m surprised it’s raised so many snooty questions to be honest because let’s face it, healthy eating is the way forward.”
Australia are no spring chickens themselves and could line up for the first Test next week in Brisbane with five 30-somethings, including Michael Clarke (32), George Bailey (31), Ryan Harris (34), Chris Rogers (36), and Brad Haddin (36), who have all been in good form.