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The Marcus Trescothick column: Graeme Swann leaves the biggest hole as England rebuild for Sri Lanka

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 10, 2014

Replacing Graeme Swann, a bowler who lifted England to the top of the world rankings, remains England's biggest problem, says Marcus Trescothick

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A huge international summer beckons for England following the shocking Ashes tour during the winter in which were absolutely battered.

I fully expected us to win in Australia so soon after beating the same opponents over here and was as stunned as anyone at how quickly and dramatically fortunes were reversed.

Now England have to restore some pride, firstly in two Tests and five one-day internationals against Sri Lanka and then five Tests and five ODIs against India.

It won’t be easy because there are serious question-marks over the make-up of our Test side. The biggest in my view is finding a quality spinner to replace Graeme Swann.

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He was the biggest catalyst in turning England from the third or fourth best team in the world to number one. The side was built around having a slow bowler, who could not only take wickets, but also put a curb on the opposition scoring rate.

Monty Panesar took six wickets in an innings for Essex this week and will again be a contender, while another talented left-armer, Lancashire’s Simon Kerrigan, has to recover from a nightmare Test baptism in the final Ashes Test of last summer.

His county colleague Stephen Parry gained one-day international experience for England recently, but is relatively inexperienced, and it may be that we opt to go into the Tests against Sri Lanka and India without a recognised spinner.

If the right sort of pitches are prepared it would be possible to go with four seamers and someone like Joe Root to provide variation when necessary.

Both Sri Lanka and India are vulnerable to the ball swinging and bouncing. England need to play to their strengths and the seam bowling department is more settled than most.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad will play providing there are fit, while Ben Stokes, batting at six or seven, is capable of performing the role of fourth seamer.

That leaves one space to fill, which will probably come down to Tim Bresnan, Steve Finn, Chris Jordan or Graham Onions.

I am pleased that Alastair Cook has stayed on as captain and I firmly believe that once he starts scoring runs at Test level again his other qualities as a leader will shine through.

But again there are big questions about the rest of the top order now that Kevin Petersen’s England career is over and Jonathan Trott continues to battle his anxiety problems.

Cook needs a new opening partner, with Sam Robson, of Middlesex, a frontrunner following a fantastic winter with the Lions.

I thought my Somerset team-mate Nick Compton was forming a very solid pairing with Cook before he lost his England place and going back to him is another option for the selectors.

If you get two hundreds in your first nine Tests, as Nick did, you deserve a longer opportunity to prove yourself.

Apart from Cook, I could only pick Ian Bell in England’s top six with any certainty, although Root will also probably be picked if he finds some form in the coming weeks.

Will Matt Prior be fit to keep wicket? If not it could come down to a choice between Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler because, while Jonny Bairstow is a decent cricketer, for me his wicketkeeping is not up to the necessary standard yet.

Prior is the best keeper and if his fitness is okay I can see him being an important component in the batting line-up again.

The one certainly about the Petersen saga is that we have lost a world class player. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at all the meetings that have taken place over KP, but not having had that advantage, I can’t comment on the rights and wrongs.

New England coach Peter Moores face s a big job, not just in rebuilding a team, but reuniting a dressing room that clearly wasn’t right in Australia. He has been very successful at county level and I will be watching his approach with huge interest.

For all the recent problems and changes, I believe that in English conditions we will win both this summer’s Test Series. India will be the tougher opponents because they are developing as a team all the time and finding more seam bowlers.

But scoring enough runs could find them out. Virat Kohli will handle our pitches and overhead conditions, but I’m not sure many of their other batsmen will be up to that.

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  • jwalter3  |  May 13 2014, 4:15PM

    Joe Root, coach him to spin, he has the temperament and can hit alot of runs too. What are England waiting for?