Graeme’s way: Built on persistence and accuracy

Alec Swann

I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked whether I'm surprised at how well Graeme, my younger brother by just under two-and-a-half years, has done since getting his chance in the international game.

Since making his Test debut at Chennai in 2008, his rise to being the pre-eminent spinner in the world has been both relatively consistent in course and rapid in time but, and I make no excuse for family bias, not really surprising at all.

He has had the necessary attributes to excel for the majority of his professional career but whether it would have been to the same degree had his elevation come much earlier is a question that is more difficult to answer.

Personally, and this having played alongside Graeme throughout his schoolboy years and in his formative years in county cricket, I don't think his route at the highest level would've followed the same path.

Perhaps it was purely a case of the stars aligning and finding the right mix of environment and personnel, but the lengthy apprenticeship served shouldn't be underestimated as a major factor in the success he has achieved.

For some, a premature ascension isn't a curse and can actually be the ideal scenario but not in this instance.

The measured and patient approach that Graeme's bowling exudes wasn't in evidence to the same degree when he was younger.

While he was always capable right from an early age of a good level of accuracy and the ability to spin the ball significantly — a spell of five wickets in four overs, four of which were stumped, in an Under-11 final for our club side springs to mind - he was prone to experimenting all too readily.

It may have made no difference whatsoever had he been bowling at Test level but I don't believe that would have been the case.

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