Graeme Swann backed the 100-ball cricket that has been proposed by England Cricket Board (ECB) in order to make the game popular in the country. Speaking at an event in Mumbai, he said that Test cricket should remain the most important thing but 100-ball cricket is what kids are looking up to now. He added that ECB's decision to launch a new format has a lot to do with the television timing slots also.
"The reason that the 100-ball cricket is on is because they are trying to get it on BBC television. Time slots that are given are not long enough to accommodate a T20 game. The only thing they (ECB) can do is reinvent the game. They do need to fit into TV so that more people can watch it. I don't think so that is a bad thing because kids will come to watch this. You cannot keep your child interested for six hours in a county game. In T20 cricket, there are fireworks, music, they stay up late, they love it. If they get the best players in the world to play the 100-ball competition, it will be amazing," said Swann.
On being asked whether he thinks that the 100-ball cricket, if it comes into existence, will affect the way national side plays T20Is like the old 40-over domestic format was said to have affected England's performance in the 50-over format, Swann disagreed. He opined: "The only excuse (we hear) of our failure in 50-over cricket was that we played 40-over cricket, I think that is nonsense. The real reason we were bad at one-day cricket was that we basically picked the Test team to play one-day cricket. If you have a central contact of a Test team, you were there in the one-day team as well. Even up to the World Cup in Australia, we had Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Gary Ballance in the top four whereas New Zealand had Brendon McCullum and Australia had Aaron Finch.
These people were looking to score 100 in first 15 overs and we were looking to score 100 in 30 overs. We played the old-fashioned game. People like Jason Roy, Alex Hales who played T20s believed that they can actually get 250 in 20 overs whereas the team that I played in used to think 250 was a good 50-over score. We are now good in One-Day cricket now because these guys have just played white-ball cricket and they have learned these skills."
'Dom Bess is a good pick'
England picked 20-year-old off-spinner Dom Bess for the first Test against Pakistan at Lord's and Graeme Swann sees it as a good move by the selectors although he has not seen much of the spinner. He said, "I have not seen Dom Bess at all. He has played only 16 First-Class games. His record is great. I quite like the way England have picked him. He has got something about him. I think they have picked him more on potential. We have not got any spinner at the moment. We don't have anyone to rely on, who could be brilliant in the future. I think spin is definitely a grey area for England where they have not nailed on. You look down the England team, there is Alastair Cook up at the order, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow but then there is a big gap. There are a lot of places that are not nailed down. There are lots of gaps in the team."
'Ravichandran Ashwin should stick to off-spin'
Swann was also of the opinion that Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who lately has been bowling more of leg-spin in the on-going Indian Premier League (IPL) should stick to off-spin. He said, "To be honest, Ravi should stick to his off-spin and his carom ball. The thing with Ravi is that in India, he lands the ball at the same place and uses subtle variations. That's how you bowl in Test cricket. T20 is the exact opposite. It is about never being predictable. If you look at spin in T20 cricket, it is not your true test of skills. Ashwin is a brilliant bowler and I know he can do it in England. It is not about variations but finding the right place to bowl. That's what England and India need to find."
'Virat Kohli will have a good England tour'
The former England offie said that Virat Kohli going to England to play for Surrey makes him nervous as an England fan but warned that playing Stuart Broad and James Anderson will be different than playing other county bowlers. He said, "It's good Virat's been given a chance to go play for Surrey. He'll enjoy Surrey trust me. The wickets at the Oval are unbelievable to bat on. He will have a good tour. Unless he plays against Jimmy (James Anderson) or Broady (Stuart Broad) in county games, I don't think it'll help because they're so much better than the county bowlers. But I think it's good. I think it's good that English cricket allowed foreign players to come over and train before."
Swann said that India's batting is very strong as well and England's lack of spin will bite the hosts. "India's batting is a lot better. The last time around, Anderson and Broad just threw India away and Moeen Ali bowled really well. This time around, they've got Broad and Anderson who're still brilliant, still world class, but the back-up...Moeen Ali is not even in the team against Pakistan. So, there's a big gap in the spinners department," Swann signed off.