In 2000, when he made his debut, Graeme Swann played just one One Day International (ODI) match in England’s tour of South Africa, but still managed to make quite a name for himself—by oversleeping and missing the team bus.
After a series full of disciplinary problems and little cricket, Swann was tossed out and forgotten. It took seven years of grinding in first class cricket for the right-arm finger spinner to come back into contention, and when he did, he wasn’t about to let the chance slip by again.
Also See Swann in 2010 (PDF)
Swann made an impressive start against Sri Lanka in the one-day series, followed it up with a solid Test debut against India in December 2008, and took his maiden five-wicket haul against West Indies in February 2009 to cement his place in the English squad. He played a crucial role with both bat and ball to help England win the Ashes in 2009.
But it was on a tour to South Africa in November 2009 that Swann really came into his own. He picked up five wickets in the first innings of the first Test, and nine in the second Test to earn man-of-the-match awards for both. By the end of the year, he was sitting comfortably behind Mitchell Johnson in the highest wicket-takers’ list in Tests.
This year, Swann has been the pivot for England’s revival in cricket—in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20. He finished as the highest wicket-taker in the 2010 World Twenty20 Championship, which England won. More recently, Swann bowled England to victory in the second Ashes Test, picking up five for 91 in the second innings to give his country a 1-0 lead in the series. As England and Australia head into their third Test, Swann already tops the 2010 wicket-takers’ list in Tests with 60 wickets, 12 more than second-placed English fast bowler James Anderson.
Now when was the last time an English spinner did that?
Compiled by Rudraneil Sengupta.