Just Graeme masala

Until now, there has been only talk about England’s frailties when it comes to facing quality spinners.

But yesterday, England’s lead spinner Graeme Swann stirred things up when he suggested that the likes of Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha don’t cause fear in their camp.

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Swann said that the Indian tweakers would not be a threat to their batsmen on “traditional” Indian pitches. He went on to say that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men are “not blessed” with a mystery spinner like Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal.

Former India left-arm spinner and national selector Venkatapathy Raju believed England are trying to gain a psychological advantage ahead of the four-Test series starting November 15. “These are just mind games. They are trying to claim a psychological advantage which usually happens before any high-intensity series,” Raju told MiD DAY yesterday.

Their problems against spin were quite evident after being whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year. Ajmal claimed 24 wickets in the three Tests before England drew a two-match Test series in Sri Lanka.

“Dubai was not really the subcontinent — that wicket was very unique in the sense that it was very skiddy and span as well. India’s wickets are more traditional, more what people are used to, so I would be very surprised if that happened again,” Swann was quoted as saying on

“Secondly, we were bowled out by a mystery spinner (Ajmal) that batsmen could not pick. India are not really blessed with a mystery spinner like that,” he added.

Raju reckoned that England’s preparation against spin would be clear when they play the first Test in Ahmedabad. “There will be a lot of talk before the series. But we will have a fair idea of their preparation when they play the first Test. They (England) are putting more pressure on themselves by saying such things,” said Raju, who played a role in India whitewashing England 3-0 in 1992-93. He claimed 16 wickets in three Tests. Anil Kumble and Rajesh Chauhan were the other two spinners in Mohammed Azharuddin’s team. Raju believed that Swann’s remarks could work to India’s advantage. “Such talk can fire up our spinners as well. In such a situation, Indian players should not focus too much on what they (England) are saying. That will help them,”
said Raju.  

Swann returns home to be with ill daughter
England off-spinner Graeme Swann has returned home from the tour of India in order to spend time with his ill daughter, the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement issued yesterday. “Graeme Swann has returned home to support his family and spend time with his daughter who is currently unwell,” the ECB statement said. “Swann will return to India ahead of the first Test in Ahmedabad, commencing November 15. This is a personal matter and we would ask for everyone to give Graeme and his family privacy. We will not be making any further comment at this time.”

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