Swann hails 'exciting' Mendis
England off-spinner wary of threat posed by Sri Lankan rival
Last Updated: September 23, 2009 10:51pm
Swann: Mendis admirer
England off-spinner Graeme Swann admits he can only dream of adding the unorthodox tricks of Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis to his armoury.
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"You go through all the lows as you are growing up - being hit for six every day and thinking you'll not get another wicket - so it makes it quite easy to deal with when you bowl badly in later life."
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Swann, 30, believes he is finally a master of his craft but accepts his bowling will never have the element of mystery that surrounds Mendis' variations.
The Nottinghamshire bowler heads into England's opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka on Friday on the back of taking 5-28 to set up England's solitary victory over Australia in the seven-match NatWest Series at Durham last Sunday.
Mendis is also in prime form having destroyed South Africa's top order with 3-30 on Tuesday as Sri Lanka opened the Champions Trophy with a 55-run victory against the hosts.
England are yet to face Mendis in a match situation but were bamboozled in practice sessions during their last tour of Sri Lanka when they were preparing to come up against the country's other star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
"We actually faced him in the nets a couple of years ago when he wasn't in the team," recalled Swann.
"When we watched him bowl we thought 'how are we going to do against Murali when we can't even play this clubbie?'
"He was getting us all out. It was inevitable that he would end up playing for Sri Lanka. Anyone that brings a new dimension to the game is exciting. Let's face it, one-day cricket needs some excitement to keep it going, so guys doing that is good for the game."
Although Mendis is not a big spinner of the ball, his ability to rush batsmen off the pitch and move it both ways has proved lethal.
Others naturally tried to copy his style but for Swann experimentation came at a cost - elbow surgery.
So Swann has settled for acquiring the knowledge and guile of a traditional finger spinner.
"The great thing about bowling spin is that you're rubbish when you're 20, you're okay when you're 25 and you start being decent when you're 30," he said.
"You go through all the lows as you are growing up - being hit for six every day and thinking you'll not get another wicket - so it makes it quite easy to deal with when you bowl badly in later life.
"You know you have been there a lot before. I am nowhere near the complete article but I am comfortable with my game now.
"Taking a five-for in Durham in September was probably the last thing on my mind. I was looking at the telly hoping it would rain so we wouldn't lose 7-0. As it was it turned square, so it was very enjoyable to bowl them (Australia) out."
Swann, meanwhile, saw the funny side of cricket's latest international dossier, compiled by the Indian team management, which suggests that increased sexual activity, which in turn raises testosterone levels, aids cricketers' performances.
"That is the sort of forward thinking I think the game needs," Swann laughed.
"I assume it is not within the team and that partners are involved.
"If the ICC want to make it more exciting then fly in the wives and girlfriends, or other parties, to improve the standard of cricket!"