Swann: Sterner tests ahead

ENGLAND spinner Graeme Swann admits the acid test of his side’s improvement in the one-day format will come next month when they face India away from home.

Fifth in the current ICC rankings, England have hinted at a brighter future this summer, vanquishing Sri Lanka coupled with their encouraging start to the current series against the world champions.

The presence of youngsters Jade Dernbach, Ben Stokes and the reinstatement of Craig Kieswetter has helped inject fresh impetus into a side, now led by Alastair Cook, who looked light years behind the Subcontinent’s finest at the World Cup earlier this year.

But ahead of today’s sold out match at the Kia Oval, where England will be looking to take a 2-0 lead with two matches to play, Swann admitted October’s five-match series in India will provide a more accurate gauge of his team’s current standing.

“Our official world ranking is five and I don’t think we can argue with that,” said Swann.

“We have shown some improvement recently but we have to continue that if we want to be one of the best teams.

“We have to beat teams like India, not just in this series, but when we go away to play them as well.”

Swann’s three wickets were a crucial factor in Tuesday’s seven-wicket win at the Rose Bowl, which saw skipper Cook guide his side home with an uncharacteristically boundary-laden innings of 80 from 63 balls.

The Essex left-hander has scored 382 runs at an average of 76 with strike rate of 100 since he was handed the captaincy and Swann hopes his rich run of form continues.

“He’s just letting his bat do the talking,” said the Nottinghamshire twirler. “It is very good for Cooky. He works very hard on his game, no-one works harder. It is brilliant that it is paying off for him.”

England dropped Jonathan Trott on Tuesday, on account of the game being reduced to 23 overs a-side, but the South African born batsman is certain to be recalled today with Ravi Bopara or Stokes the likeliest candidates to make way.