Jimmy Anderson can swing an epic Test series against India back England's way on his return to a side he should've never been left out of.
That is the verdict of Graeme Swann, a man who pouched his fair share of wickets for Anderson from second slip during his 60 Tests, and is astonished why anyone would leave him out of a team at this stage of his career.
After bowling England to victory in the first match, 38-year-old Anderson returns for the day/night Test with the series deliciously poised at 1-1, and the reports are that the pink balls are made for swinging.
“I believe this series is absolutely on a knife-edge,” said Swann. “It is a brilliant place for England to be, and they've got a great chance to go ahead once more.
“I'm full of optimism going into this game, mainly due to Jimmy coming back. He was irrepressible in the first match, and he just keeps defying the odds and gets better and better.
“I do wonder though, Jimmy is coming to the back end of his career and he is bowling better than ever before. What are we shielding him for?
“Jimmy doesn't get fatigued when he's bowling like this. He is the kingpin of the attack. You build an attack around him. I can't wait to see him go again.
“What his plan is for the Ashes later in the year I don't know, but I can't see any reason why you wouldn't have him first name on the team sheet, before Joe Root.”
And the Betfair ambassador will get the chance to watch how Anderson is doing, up closer than the rest of us as part of the commentary team in Ahmedabad for the third and fourth Tests.
After a stint working on the Abu Dhabi T10, the former spinner has been in Dubai doing a spot of skiing to pass the time, waiting to take over from Mark Butcher as a counter point to the India focussed team, and Channel 4 viewers will surely enjoy his wit and cricket intelligence from Wednesday.
It was in India last year while working on the IPL, that Swann was a part of the commentary team alongside Dean Jones, when the former Aussie batsman passed away due to a huge stroke.
And although Swann is unimpressed by the timing of England's rotation policy in the middle of a Test series, he does applaud the ECB's care for player mental health, knowing that the bond of a team away from home is one of the strongest there is.
“The passing of Deano hit us hard,” he added. “It was a tragic and shocking moment to go through, but if we had all been sent home I'm not sure how we'd have coped.
“And that is one of the reasons why I feel so strongly about the benefit of being in a group together like the England bubble is.
“Coming to terms with it was only possible because all of us were together going through that shared experience. Brett Lee, who was with him, Scott Styris, Brian Lara, myself and the other guys, we had to deal with it together.”
For more from Betfair ambassador Graeme Swann, please visit his blog at Betfair.com/swann
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