I’m not sure what to make of ICC’s decision to add Graeme Swann’s name to the longlist for the ICC Cricketer of the Year Award, after originally overlooking him. It is another highly embarrassing incident for ICC.
Justice has certainly been done, as Swann should have been one of the first names on the list. He is probably in the top 4 or 5 cricketers in the world over the last year, let alone the top 16.
But why he was originally left out is another question. Was it just a stupid oversight? Or is there more too it than that?
One of the five members of the selection panel is a certain Duncan Fletcher. The same man who deemed Swann not good enough for England during the majority of his tenure as national team coach.
To those of us outside the sport looking in, Fletcher seems an incredibly hard man to read. He seemed to be a stone faced, dour man devoid of any personality while he was coach of England. But during his stint on Test Match Special last winter he came across as a very articulate, decent friendly man with a dry sense of humour, he was in fact very interesting to listen too.
One thing that I think is obvious about Fletcher though, is his unbreakable, stubborn belief that he is never wrong.
Could it be that to name Swann as one of the worlds top cricketers would be an admission that he got it wrong in the past?
And how wrong Fletcher got it, is quite amazing really. I think back to the public clamour for Monty Panesar to be included in the England team, and the way Fletcher seemed totally opposed to this.
He hated certain aspects of Panesar’s game, mainly his fielding and batting. While he desperately wanted Ashley Giles back as he was the all round complete package, could field at gully, and bat at 8, as well as do his bowling duties properly.
Without Giles – and having to replace him with Monty – the whole axis of Fletcher’s team was compromised. And all the time, the perfect like-for-like replacement for Giles was plugging away in county cricket with absolutely no chance of getting a game, simply because Fletcher didn’t like his personality.
Maybe Swann wasn’t ready for test cricket back in 2006-07, who knows? Under Fletcher we certainly were never going to find out, thats for sure.
Duncan Fletcher did a brilliant job as England coach, and I’m sure I speak for all England fans when I say we owe him a massive debt of gratitude for the 2005 Ashes victory.
And in Fletcher’s defence, there was 4 other members on the selection panel, so Fletcher would probably have had to do well to persuade others not to select Swann.
But I really do hope this isn’t another episode of the bitterness that seemed to surface with the release of his book. The kind of revenge that Fletcher seemed hell bent on dishing out when he released his thoughts on anyone who dared cross him during his time in charge.
I like to try and think of Fletcher as he came across on TMS, as I mentioned earlier in the article, but it does leave me wondering.
I suspect Fletch’s hand behind Swann not being included in the original list. He never wants to agree that he is wrong but his opinion on Swann has been proved wrong.
The more I think about this, the more I believe there was a deliberate reason for leaving Swann out.
They surely can’t be that incompetent that they simply forgot about him, afterall he is on the test list.
Imagine if they hadn’t added him to the list, and he goes and bowls Pakistan out on Saturday to win the test.