Graeme Swann hits back at ‘Dad’s Army’ jibe

Ageing off-spinner Swann insisted Monday that England are not too old to defend the Ashes.

Written by Agencies | Sydney | Published: November 12, 2013 1:24:22 am

Ageing off-spinner Graeme Swann insisted Monday that England are not too old to defend the Ashes,saying the team’s 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 “Dad’s Army” jibes were misplaced. “I don’t think we need to worry about the age of the team — I think I’m the oldest,” he said on the England and Wales Cricket Board website. “It’s not like we’re all pushing the boundaries. If the oldest player is that age,it’s not like you’re 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 we’ve got an exciting blend of youth and experience at the minute. That’s one of the reasons why I’m confident going into this Ashes series.”

Swann revealed that England’s 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 we’re getting on a bit,and if we don’t eat healthily we tend to pile on the pounds,” he said.

“It’s all very good healthy stuff so I’m surprised it’s raised so many snooty questions to be honest because let’s 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 England’s last tour match due to a calf tear but the tourists are confident he will be fit to play in next week’s 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 week’s match against an Invitational XI,a team official said.

“It’s disappointing,Matt is a key part of our success over the years and obviously we want him to get recovered as quick as possible,” Prior’s team mate Ian Bell told reporters at the Sydney Cricket round (SCG) on Monday. “There’s still a bit of time (before the first Test),Matt’s got himself into fantastic shape for this tour and he’ll be really good with his rehab and I’ve got every faith he’ll be fully fit for Brisbane.”

Team picks itself

DESPITE the weeks of debate about the make-up of the Australia team for next week’s 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.

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