Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Monty’s back but England Ashes hopes rest on Swann


CRICKET-ENGLAND/England’s commitment to a four-man attack for their Ashes defence in Australia this year has directly influenced the decision to recall left-arm spinner Monty Panesar.

Panesar and Surrey fast bowler Chris Tremlett, another recall, won the two extra bowling places at stake in the 16-man squad named at the Oval on Thursday.

England won the Ashes with a five-man attack in 2005 but, in the absence of a test class all-rounder after Andrew Flintoff’s injury-induced retirement, have preferred this year to play an extra batsman.

* England will be heavily reliant on off-spinner Graeme Swann, the world’s top-ranked spinner, in Australia. Swann, who gives the ball a prodigious tweak for a finger-spinner, has emerged as England’s match-winner after he was called up at the end of 2008.

Swann could be key to England Ashes hopes


swannAt 30 years old England spinner Graeme Swann is no spring chicken, but since his first taste of international cricket ended up with him oversleeping and missing the bus this story could have a bit of a fairytale feel about it if things continue to go well … Not so much Swann Lake as The Ugly Duckling, perhaps?

The focus heading in to England’s second Test has been on local hero Graham Onions, and latterly the West Indies captain Chris Gayle, after he said he would “not be so sad” if Test cricket were to disappear.