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Graeme leaves for home, to return before 1st Test

- Off-spinner flies back to be with sick daughter
Graeme Swann

Calcutta/Ahmedabad: England off-spinner Graeme Swann left for home on Wednesday, on the eve of their final tour match against Haryana, to be by the side of his sick daughter but will return back in time for the first Test, beginning here on November 15.

“Graeme Swann has returned home to support his family and spend time with his daughter who is currently unwell. Swann will return to India ahead of the first Test in Ahmedabad, commencing November 15,” the ECB said in a statement.

“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,” the statement added.

Swann’s daughter Charlotte is barely three-week-old.

The spinner’s absence from the final warm-up match is a further blow to the visitors who already have fitness concerns about fast bowlers Steven Finn and Stuart Broad. Finn has a thigh injury and Broad a bruised heel.

“It puts a big question mark over them, that’s fairly obvious,” England batting coach Graham Gooch said. “With a bruised heel, it is something that can be very annoying and can take time to clear up. You’ve got to see how it goes each day, whether it gets better with the rest, keep checking it and see how it comes on. There’s no other way of going about it really.”

Earlier, Swann, however, had made a bold statement on behalf of his team as he said that the Indian spinners would not be a threat to the England batsmen during the four-Test series. That, despite their recent struggle against slow bowlers in subcontinent conditions.

England have managed to register just two wins in 22 Tests in the subcontinent, excluding matches against Bangladesh, and the reason could be largely attributed to the fact that their batsmen have struggled against high-quality spin bowling.

England were whitewashed 0-3 by Pakistan in the Test series held at the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, before they could manage a draw in the two-match Test rubber against Sri Lanka in April.

Swann, however, said that the wicket in Dubai was different from the typical subcontinent track. “I think last winter was a bit different…

“First of all, when we played in Dubai that was not really the subcontinent, that wicket was very unique in the sense that it was very skiddy. Indian wickets are more traditional, more what people are used to, so I would be very surprised if that happened again,” Swann said.

Swann also added that India lacked a mystery spinner, like Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, in their ranks. “We were bowled out by a mystery spinner (Ajmal) whom the batsmen could not pick. India are not really blessed with a mystery spinner like that,” he said.

The off-spinner, however, admitted that the English batsmen have always had a problem against quality spin bowling.

“…That has been levelled at us for a few years now and justifiably so. We have had a poor record against spin bowling over here. I think that is more of a mental thing now because the wickets are not that different around the world.

“Certainly, the wickets we played on in Sri Lanka were not really spin friendly. They were not any different to playing at Old Trafford or Trent Bridge. They tend to spin more on day four and five but at times like that we need to forget where we are playing and just go out and play the ball as it comes down,” Swann insisted.

Swann said that his teammates would look to make the most of the experience they gained while playing Test series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. “I think we went into our shells a bit in the UAE and suffered as a consequence. We have learned, certainly as batsmen, that you have to be positive and you have to be more aggressive when you bat.

“We have got so much talent in the squad that I would not be surprised if we went to India in the Test series and really dominated with the bat,” he said.

Related report: Page 16