"Rock And Roll" England Slight Favourites In Rescheduled 5th Test vs India: Graeme Swann
England vs India: Graeme Swann feels that England are "slight favourites" going into the rescheduled fifth Test against India.
Former England spinner Graeme Swann is thrilled with the transformation the English Test team has undergone under the leadership of new captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum. He said that the momentum they are carrying from the recent series sweep over New Zealand makes them "slight favourites" for the rescheduled fifth Test against India in Birmingham. Swann said that if the Test had happened as per schedule last year, then he would have handed it to India "on a platter" as they were the better team then. But now, with England's new exciting brand of cricket, he feels the hosts hold the edge.
"Firstly, I think that's the greatest phrase I've heard, 'rock and roll Test cricket'. That is exactly the right phrase for it," Swann said in response to an NDTV query during an interaction with select media organisations.
"One thing I will say is that this game is being played now, a year later. Because if it was this time last year, I would hand the Test on a platter to India. They were a far better team, far more confident. How we won a Test match in that series, I'll never know. It was only down to one brilliant knock by Joe Root," Swann said.
India led the five-match series 2-1 when the fifth Test was postponed by a year due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the visitors' camp.
"But now you're going to face an England team where Joe Root is back to his absolute best, where Ollie Pope is playing his best ever for England. Ben Stokes is amalgamating the team and playing in an ultra-positive rock and roll fashion. It's a really bad time to play England. Because they have just played these three games against New Zealand," Swann explained.
"There are chinks in the armour, don't get me wrong. The opening bat slots for England are still very weak. But nearly all of the other spots at the minute have had excellent returns. Even the spinner, Jack Leach, who was under a lot of pressure, has just got 10 wickets in the match in Headingley," he said.
He also pointed out that India only had one warm-up game, against Leicestershire, as preparation for the Test.
"So England are in a very good position, so I would say they are slight favourites because of that series and the fact that India have just had one game in England at Leicester so they are coming in cold, if you like, into the Test match, which is a bit of a disadvantage," he said.
"So as an Englishman, I am happy with where we are at the moment," Swann concluded.
The rescheduled fifth Test between England and India will be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham from July 1-5 and will be available on the Sony Ten network.