Jul 8 2013
Graeme Swann will do all he can to make England's cricketers the toast of a famous sporting summer - and will not complain either if some belated individual recognition comes his way.
Swann is a two-time Ashes winner already but has yet to have his achievements endorsed in the honours system. MBEs and the like were handed out universally among Michael Vaughan's 2005 Ashes-winners, then less liberally to those who joined in to prevail over Australia in 2009 and again in 2010/11 under Andrew Strauss.
Swann remains bereft - until and unless, at least, he features in a hat-trick of Ashes successes. The British and Irish Lions' series win over Australia and then Andy Murray's first home win for 77 years set the scene for a summer of national sporting achievement. "As a supporter, I am huge fan of everything England or Britain does," said Swann.
"In the Olympics (last year), I was as proud as anyone when they were doing well; in the football World Cup, I'm there screaming them on ... to inevitable penalty defeat by the Germans every time. I feel those losses as much as anyone, so I can understand how a successful English team is important to the people of Britain.
"If I wasn't playing in this series, I would be standing in a pub for seven weeks solid cheering on England. I hope we can provide a lot of people with a lot of reasons to get very drunk."
Alastair Cook's Test team want to beat Australia not just to keep up with the Lions and Murray but for their own sporting ambition - and Swann sees no harm in aiming high, albeit characteristically tongue-in-cheek.
"If we do well, in seven weeks' time and you get swept up in the euphoria and you end up with MBEs," he said. "No, hang on, half our team have got MBEs already - knighthoods, let us say, let's dream big. Yeah, why not? We win 5-0; I take 50 wickets, I get knighted - PM in five years' time."
One of England's biggest weapons may be a fit-again Kevin Pietersen - back with a refreshing new attitude since his summer of discontent, according to Swann. Asked whether he agrees with Strauss' published assessment of Pietersen as one of England's greatest but also more disruptive cricketers, he said: "I don't know - I've never had to captain him.
"Since he has come back, he has been great. That reintegration that took place before (the successful winter tour of) India, I think that was important for the team and for Kevin especially - and he responded very well to it.
England have been touted as favourites, but Swann added: "I don't think we see ourselves as a dominant force. We climbed up to number one (Test ranked team) in the world which was a feat that we aimed to do but we didn't stay there very long. We're continually aiming to improve and we want to go back up there and until we are, we certainly won't see ourselves as a dominant force."