Swann, Anderson 'key' men

2011-07-12 14:36

London - India batting ace Rahul Dravid has highlighted Graeme Swann and James Anderson as England's star bowlers ahead of the teams' much-anticipated Test series starting at Lord's next week.

Fast-medium bowler Anderson is now the unchallenged leader of England's attack while off-break specialist Swann is widely regarded as one of the world's leading spinners.

"James Anderson has bowled really well," Dravid told the August issue of The Cricketer magazine. "He's been the trump card.

"Obviously Graeme Swann is a top-class spinner. We first saw him in England bowling here last time and the boys rated him.

"He's come on leaps and bounds from then and has become one of their lead bowlers," Dravid added.

"Swann and Anderson are the key."

Dravid, who averages over 65 in Tests in England, said India's batsmen would look to be positive against Swann.

"He's an attacking bowler and that's one of the things that is different. He's not just looking to contain, he's looking to take wickets. He's not scared to toss the ball up and gets turn with good sideways spin.

"It will be a good contest against batsmen who are good players against spin, who will not be scared to take him on."

India arrive as both the leaders of the ICC's World Test Championship and the reigning 50-over world champions.

But England, who've just beaten Sri Lanka in Test and one-day series, are third in the Test rankings and keen to replace India at the summit of the five-day game.

"All series are important series," Dravid said. "But this one is important because it's a series between two teams that have had good recent records, which gives it a bit more context.

"We won in England last time, so from that point of view England will want to do better this time."

Four years ago, India won a three-Test series in England 1-0 and Dravid said the form of their fast bowlers, led by left-armer Zaheer Khan and a revitalised Ishant Sharma, would be crucial.

"It's a hard one to call," Dravid conceded. "England are playing at home, so they have that advantage. We're a good side, a settled side, and we've been playing good cricket over the last couple of years.

"If we can keep our fast bowlers fit, then we'll be very competitive."

Since making 95 on his Test debut, at Lord's in 1996, the now 38-year-old Dravid has established himself as one of the world's leading batsmen, scoring more than 12 000 runs in 153 matches at an average of nearly 53 including 32 hundreds - figures worthy of an all-time great.

However, asked what the highlight of his 15-year Test career had been, Dravid ignored personal milestones.

"I'm really proud that India is the No 1 Test team," he said. "I've seen Indian cricket since 1996 and to be part of this journey and to see India become the No.1 Test team - not just for a short period of time because we've now been there for more than a year - it's something I'm very proud of."