Much has been talked about in relation to the spin bowling aspects of each team going into the first match in Cardiff, a ground that, in the eyes of many, is set to turn. With this in mind, Graeme Swann, England's number one spinner, spoke of his excitement ahead of the Ashes when he talked to Cricket World TV at Edgbaston.
“I'm that excited just waiting for July 8th, I feel like a kid on December 1st who has opened the advent calender and can't wait to get to Christmas," he said.
Despite all the new faces in both teams such as Australia's new batting hope Philip Hughes, Swann underlined the Aussie captain Ricky Ponting as the main threat to England's Ashes aspirations.
“Any of our bowlers against (Ricky) Ponting is going to be a key battle. They've got some great players in their side and we're going to really target their batsmen and try to get them out as cheaply as possible.”
The tourists' bowling attack has been under scrutiny from the media since they arrived in England and having been put to the sword by the Sussex batting order they will be keen to impress against the Lions. Having said that though, there are proven performers in that attack and Swann has not forgotten that:
“Batting-wise, I think our guys are pretty confident that they can go out and score runs, but they have some class bowlers.
“There will be a lot of individual and team battles and it's going to be epic.”
Swann made his England debut in a One-Day International in 2000, but had to wait another eight years to make an entrance to the Test arena. This long wait for Test cricket has made him hungry for success and he expressed his desire to make an impact at the crucial moments of the matches:
“I want to take as many wickets as I can, but I always want to take that key wicket in a game. If there is a bit of a partnership going, I'll be shouting at Straussy (Andrew Strauss) to give me the ball because I want to try and break that up. It's something in my character and that's how I'll try to approach this series.”
With a potentially spin-friendly wicket at the SWALEC Stadium, Swann could play a huge role for England. Although, however much the media has spoken about the fact that the Cardiff wicket has been turning prodigiously this season, Swann played it down, admitting however that a little bit of spin would certainly be well received by him.
“I'm not convinced it's going to turn more than normal at Cardiff. It's going to be flat, it's going to be fairly low and slow and it's going to be hard work for the bowlers.
“Hopefully there will be a bit of turn because it makes it easier for me, but we'll have to wait and see.”
Spin has been the focus of many before this Ashes series and it is likely that Graeme Swann will have a big role to play come July 8th.
© Cricket World 2009