Stewart: Seriously consider dropping Swann

England

Former England captain Alec Stewart feels coach Andy Flower should consider the almost sacrilegious idea of dropping spinner Graeme Swann for the third Ashes Test in Perth, starting on Friday.

Former England captain Alec Stewart feels coach Andy Flower should consider the almost sacrilegious idea of dropping spinner Graeme Swann for the third Ashes Test in Perth, starting on Friday.

The WACA pitch is far more conducive to fast bowling, and with Swann and Monty Panesar failing to impress in the first two matches, which Australia won, a growing feeling is that England could go with an all pace attack and add a batsman.

Stewart said on <i>The Ashes Breakfast</i> in the wake of the Adelaide defeat: "England have got to look at the make-up of the team. Are they going to go in with just one spinner and will that be Swann or Panesar?

"Previously it was always going to be Swann but he is averaging 99 in the two Tests and is going at more than four an over with a strike-rate of about 140 balls per wicket.

"You could go in without a spinner and just have Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen as the back-up. It's a brave decision but I think England have to do something slightly different. To leave Graeme Swann out of an England team is almost unheard of."

Stewart then went on to say that leaving Swann out was also a risk in terms of the slip cordon, but that if nothing else, it was the batting department that needed the most attention.

He added: "You do leave yourself a little bit open if you leave a spinner out but it will definitely be something that the selectors will discuss.

"England have backed themselves very much on the continuity of selection but they haven't been in this position – 2-0 down – for a very, very long time.

"It's the batting that has fallen by the wayside and they've got to look at that. Are they going to forego a spinner to lengthen the batting and play four out-and-out seamers?

"Swann is probably England's best slip fielder. If he didn't play, then who is going to stand at second slip? These are the types of conundrums the selectors will look at.

"Whatever they do they have to make sure that the players believe they can win because, as Alastair Cook said, if you don't believe you might as well pack your bags and go home now."

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