This is your chance to be the star turn, Swann tells Eng­land’s spin trio

Joe Root’s slow bowlers must step up to the plate on Sri Lanka’s turn­ing pitches, writes Pippa Field

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport -

Af­ter a sum­mer of hard work in home con­di­tions, Eng­land’s spin­ners should be “lick­ing their lips” at the prospect of bowl­ing in Sri Lanka, ac­cord­ing to Graeme Swann.

The tour to Sri Lanka is Eng­land’s first Test se­ries in the coun­try in six years. Only two play­ers – James An­der­son and Stu­art Broad – re­main from that 2012 party, but the en­tire squad will be well drilled on the turn­ing pitches that await them.

All-rounder Moeen Ali and legspin­ner Adil Rashid, part of Eoin Mor­gan’s one-day team, will get a taste of things be­fore the first Test in Galle in a month’s time while Jack Leach, re­called for the first time since his Test de­but against New Zealand in March, is the third spin­ner in the Test squad.

Given the spin­ner-friendly con­di­tions, Swann wants to see the play­ers step up to the mark.

“If you go to In­dia or Sri Lanka as a spin­ner, it’s your chance. You have to go to Aus­tralia, New Zealand, South Africa, they are not easy places to bowl,” said Swann. “When the ball is in your court, lick your lips and say, ‘This is my time now’.”

Swann twice toured Sri Lanka, first in 2007 when he was un­der­study to Monty Pane­sar but played in the one-day matches, and in 2012.

Across that two-Test se­ries, the off-spin­ner fin­ished with 16 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 22.18 – his low­est ca­reer av­er­age when tour­ing any of the sub-con­ti­nen­tal na­tions.

Af­ter this sum­mer’s matches against Pak­istan and In­dia failed to pro­duce a clear an­swer to who should be Eng­land’s No1 spin­ner, Swann be­lieves the trio should rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity ahead.

“Be­fore I got on the plane, I would think, ‘This is it, I’m go­ing to have a mas­sive tour’,” he added. “If I was one of the spin bowlers I would be go­ing out there not think­ing, ‘Oh, there’s go­ing to be ex­pec­ta­tion be­cause it spins and you’re sup­posed to do well.’ Yes, you are sup­posed to do well, so go and do well.”

Last week, Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root mused that ei­ther Rashid or Leach could open the bowl­ing, repli­cat­ing a move by Sri Lanka, who gave the new ball to two spin­ners against South Africa this year.

How­ever, Swann has reser­va­tions about Rashid, in­stead be­liev­ing the coaches should per­se­vere with Moeen as their main spin­ner.

“Adil is a lovely lad. But I don’t think he is a Test-match spin bowler be­cause he doesn’t be­lieve it,” Swann said. “He ab­so­lutely could be. If he can do it with the white ball, he can do it with the red ball. But I think at the minute, they all just need sit­ting down and an arm putting around them.

“Moeen [should be told]: ‘You’re No1, you’re go­ing to be for the fore­see­able fu­ture be­cause you’re a very good bats­man as well. Why don’t you just go and be the No1 spin­ner that you [were] three years ago and stop wor­ry­ing about it?’”

Graeme Swann was speak­ing at the launch of the Cricket World Cup Par­tic­i­pa­tion Plan

Rainy day: Eoin Mor­gan af­ter the game with a Sri Lanka Cricket XI was called off yes­ter­day

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