London: Duncan Fletcher may have coached the England team for eight years but there's still a "hell of a lot" about them that he "doesn't know at all", offspinner Graeme Swann has said. Fletcher was named India's new coach, replacing Gary Kirsten, and his first assignment is likely to be the tour of England later in the year.
Swann, who was not in Fletcher's good books when he first played for England in 2000, said any presumptions from the coach about knowing it all about England had the potential to backfire.
"Fletcher knows a few of our players better than some other coaches would," Swann told the Daily Telegraph. "But there's a hell of a lot of our team he doesn't know at all. I think that will work to our advantage, because he might be trying to double guess us a little bit and come a cropper."
Swann made his ODI debut on the tour of South Africa in 2000, when Fletcher was coach, but lost favour with the team due to his off-field behaviour. He played his first Test almost eight years later. "If I was a coach 10 years ago, I don't think I would have picked me, and I wouldn't have particularly liked me being on that tour," Swann said. "If you're my sort of character, you soon become quite irksome to the people around you if you're not backing your talk up on the field.
"I was just a young upstart tourist, and it was a good job I didn't play because I wasn't good enough. I'd probably have been found out and cast aside for good, and never been given my eventual second chance."
There are several players in the current England set-up who've either not played under Fletcher or done so only occasionally. Jonathan Trott and Steven Finn made their debuts after Fletcher left, while Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and even Swann gained prominence much later.
"It's nice for him to come back to England, because he's got a fine record with the England team," Swann said. "Now he will get a chance to pit his wits against this new England side during the summer. Technically, though, I don't think it helps him much to know a few of our players, because there's so much footage available that you can work anybody out."
Even James Anderson, who Swann believes could be the key against India, played only 16 of his 57 Tests under Fletcher. "If the ball swings like it did last year and Jimmy bowls as well again, there's no team in the world that can touch us," Swann said. "I think we will give India a very good run for their money, if not beat them."