Ageing off-spinner Graeme Swann insisted Monday that England are not too old to defend the Ashes,saying the teams mix of youth and experience is an asset. More than half of the touring side to Australia are older than 30,including key players Ian Bell (31),James Anderson (31),Kevin Pietersen (33) and Swann (34).
But Swann,who has 248 Test wickets from 57 matches,said any Dads Army jibes were misplaced. I dont think we need to worry about the age of the team I think Im the oldest, he said on the England and Wales Cricket Board website. Its not like were all pushing the boundaries. If the oldest player is that age,its not like youre all ready for the Home Guard yet.
Yorkshire trio Joe Root,Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance,Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and Steven Finn add a youthful edge to the squad and Swann said: I think weve got an exciting blend of youth and experience at the minute. Thats one of the reasons why Im confident going into this Ashes series.
Swann revealed that Englands tofu and goji-infused diet,which Australian media mercilessly attacked when the dietary demands became known on Friday,was partly motivated by the ageing squad. Some of us have to take it quite seriously because were getting on a bit,and if we dont eat healthily we tend to pile on the pounds, he said.
Its all very good healthy stuff so Im surprised its raised so many snooty questions to be honest because lets face it,healthy eating is the way forward.
Australia are no spring chickens themselves and could line up for the first Test next week in Brisbane with five 30-somethings,including Michael Clarke (32),George Bailey (31),Ryan Harris (34),Chris Rogers (36),and Brad Haddin (36),who have all been in good form.
Prior ruled out
Meanwhile,vice-captai n Matt Prior has been ruled out of Englands last tour match due to a calf tear but the tourists are confident he will be fit to play in next weeks first Test in Brisbane. Wicketkeeper Prior,who sustained the injury in the match against Australia A in Hobart on Saturday,has a low grade tear to his left calf so will not feature in this weeks match against an Invitational XI,a team official said.
Its disappointing,Matt is a key part of our success over the years and obviously we want him to get recovered as quick as possible, Priors team mate Ian Bell told reporters at the Sydney Cricket round (SCG) on Monday. Theres still a bit of time (before the first Test),Matts got himself into fantastic shape for this tour and hell be really good with his rehab and Ive got every faith hell be fully fit for Brisbane.
Team picks itself
DESPITE the weeks of debate about the make-up of the Australia team for next weeks first Test,captain Michael Clarke is of the opinion that 11 of the 12 players are no-brainer selections.
I think there is no doubt there is more stability in our teams (and) I would imagine the majority of the players have picked themselves, he told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Monday. The exciting thing about where we are at right now,whether it be batters or bowlers,individual players have stepped up and performed. We are in a good place. I believe if they are going to pick 12 players I think 11 of them are no brainers, Clarke said.