Swann can tear Aussies apart – again
It is fair to say that England are very much on the back foot as they limber up for the second Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval this week.
The tourists have just been hammered by 381 runs in the Brisbane opener by an Aussie team who also appear to have taken a big lead in the sledging stakes. Add to that the loss for the whole series of Jonathan Trott, back home with a stress-related illness, and it is clear that England have a lot of work to do if they are going to turn things around.
But things aren’t as bad as they seem, nothing like as bad. With just the above facts to consider, one might think that it’s a waste of time England turning up for another battering, but as Coral’s odds of 13/8 Australia and 13/5 England imply (11/8 the draw) we are now in another territory, in sporting terms as well as geographically.
And England’s beleaguered squad need only to think back to the last Adelaide encounter in 2010 to cheer themselves up. On that occasion, a big century from Alastair Cook, a man-of-the-match 227 from Kevin Pietersen, six wickets from Jimmy Anderson and seven from Graeme Swann combined to give England an innings victory and lay the foundations for their historic 3-1 series win.
Things might be different now, but not that different. England’s team still has the same nucleus (while half of Australia’s team remain) and though Andy Flower’s men were distinctly second best at Brisbane, they have not suddenly become a bad side.
Swann was one of the least effective England players in the first Test, but the Adelaide surface will suit him much better. Back amongst the wickets in a tour game in Alice Springs last weekend (and just as importantly back with a smile on his face) the Aussies may do well to treat him with a little more respect than they did in Queensland.
I fancy Swann to make a big impact again, if not in the first innings, then in the second. Coral’s 12/1 he ends the match with ten wickets is a big ask – especially if England play Monty Panesar as well to share potential spoils – but is perhaps worth a small punt, as might be the 16/1 to win the Man of the Match award.
Tim Bresnan makes a welcome return to the fold after recovering from a back injury and seems likely to replace Chris Tremlett here, not just because the pitch will suit his strengths more, but also to bolster the batting middle order.
The Yorkshireman is 7/2 to be leading England wicket-taker in the first innings behind 9/4 joint favourites Jimmy Anderson and Staurt Broad, who must be hoping that any first day heroics this time will lead to a better outcome.