AND spinner Graeme Swann admits their Lazarus-like recovery from a dreadful start to the cusp of history will count for little if they do not complete a series win in India this week.
The tourists need only a draw in tomorrow’s fourth and final Test in Nagpur to claim their first series on Indian soil since 1985, having dealt the hosts consecutive thrashings in Mumbai and Kolkata.
“I think it’s very difficult to quantify just how good the victories were,” said Swann. “They’ve been magnificent wins away from home. I’m sure I’ll look back with a great deal of pride on how we won the last two games. But I won’t be looking back with as much pride if we don’t finish the job off this week.”
Shell-shocked India have axed stars Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh in a desperate bid to avoid a first home series defeat for eight years, while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has faced calls to quit.
Swann expects the hosts to go for the jugular tomorrow morning, but has warned that England are equally determined to see out their mission and give Alastair Cook a dream start to his Test captaincy.
“It is tough, but sometimes it’s a good position to be in,” he said of India’s must-win predicament. “If there’s only one possible result you can get, you can go all out fighting. The last Test of a series, if you know the result hangs on it, is normally a very exciting one.
“I’m sure India will come out fighting because they have to win the game. Equally so, I’m sure we’ll approach the game thinking attack is our best form of defence. I think that’s what has proved crucial in the last couple of games.”
Victory would end a difficult year, in which England have lost their No1 Test ranking and been whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in the Middle East, on a high note ahead of next summer’s Ashes series.
“We’ll be going out trying to win the series and then we’ll let people write how good a year or how a bad year it’s been accordingly,” Swann added. “If we win it will be a lovely way to round the year off.”
England are expected to stick with the team that won by seven wickets in Kolkata on Sunday, with seamer Stuart Broad set to miss out again amid fresh injury fears.