Swann: Ashwin should have played at Lord's

England

Former England spinner Graeme Swann feels India slow bowler Ravichandran Ashwin should have been selected for the second Test against England at Lord's, if for no other reason than to see what he could do outside India.

Former England spinner Graeme Swann feels India slow bowler Ravichandran Ashwin should have been selected for the second Test against England at Lord's, if for no other reason than to see what he could do outside India.

Ashwin has not played in the first two Tests of the series, with India opting to go with fourth seamer Stuart Binny, but Swann feels Ashwin could have done well at Lord's, as it's a better spinning track than in the past.

Swann told bcci.tv: "I like him. I think he should have been playing here (at Lord's). He hasn't bowled enough overseas to be judged yet. When you're used to bowling in India it is not easy to adjust quickly to bowling overseas.

"That's because in India it is very easy to find the right pace to bowl at as a spinner as compared to these conditions. Since most wickets in India are pretty slow and low, even if you are a little wayward, you don't get punished.

"In England and especially Australia, if you pitch it slightly short or wide, you get smashed. I'm sure Ashwin can bowl really well outside India because his record in India is fantastic. And if he can do it there he can do it anywhere."

He was then asked if Ashwin, a naturally attacking bowler, had to change the way he bowled outside of India, and Swann replied: "I think you have to be flexible throughout the game.

"During certain parts of the match you have to be defensive in England. On the fourth and fifth day, you are just thrown the ball and you go on an all-attack mode. On the initial couple of days, I wouldn't be attacking much.

"I'd still be trying to take wickets but in a very different way. I'd want a short leg, a deep midwicket and a catching midwicket because you know the batsman will try to hit you straight or flick you and you could get catches there.

"On days four and five, I'd want three men around the bat – a slip and two catchers – and I'd want a short midwicket. So, at different times, you have to have different strategies."

He then added: "It should be admired that he (Ashwin) is prepared to stick to his guns and be aggressive.

"Since he's not been playing so far, he has a good chance to work his way on the English wickets – go to the nursery grounds, get batsmen to face him, bowl different deliveries, vary his pace and ask the batsman, 'alright, what works? What is easy and what feels dangerous'?

"That's what I used to do. I'd take a batsman and tell him, 'I'll bowl you five balls. Tell me which one you did or didn't enjoy facing. Tell me which one you didn't give monkeys about'.

"Sometimes I realized that what felt better to me, was not necessarily what most batsmen found tough."

As for England's spin stocks, Swann said there was not enough emphasis on the slow technique at grassroots levels, and hoped their would be a focus on developing spin coaches.

He said: "They need to place genuine emphasis on developing spinners at grass-root level. Throughout England there are a lot of batting coaches, fast bowling coaches, nutritionists, mental conditioning coaches, etc.

"Spin coaches are few and far between. Last year, we had Mushy (Mushtaq Ahmed) with the team and he was part-time. So, as a spinner, for the half of the series I had no one to talk spin to.

"England haven't really focused on spin bowling over the years, but now that the grounds and the wickets are drying up, they will need to. They need at least two world-class spinners quickly."

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