Graeme Swann will do all he can to make England’s cricketers the toast of a famous sporting summer – and will not complain either if some belated individual recognition comes his way.
Swann is a two-time Ashes winner already but, unlike the majority of his established contemporaries, has yet to have his achievements endorsed in the honours system.
MBEs and the like were handed out universally among Michael Vaughan’s 2005 Ashes-winners, then less liberally to those who joined in to prevail over Australia in 2009 and again in 2010/11 under Andrew Strauss.
Swann therefore remains bereft – until and unless, at least, he features in a hat-trick of Ashes successes in an Investec series which will get under way on his home ground in Nottingham tomorrow.
It was a typical Swann flight of fancy which took him off on an honours theme in his Trent Bridge press conference yesterday, after he had stressed already how much a third consecutive victory over Australia would mean to him.
The British and Irish Lions’ series win over Australia at rugby union and then Andy Murray’s first home win for 77 years in the Wimbledon Men’s Singles at the weekend set the scene for a summer of national sporting achievement.
“As a supporter, I am huge fan of everything England or Britain does,” said Swann.
“In the Olympics (last year), I was as proud as anyone when they were doing well; in the football World Cup, I’m there screaming them on ... to inevitable penalty defeat by the Germans every time.
“I feel those losses as much as anyone, so I can understand how a successful English team is important to the people of Britain.
“If I wasn’t playing in this series, I would be standing in a pub for seven weeks solid cheering on England. I hope we can provide a lot of people with a lot of reasons to get very drunk.”
Alastair Cook’s Test team want to beat Australia not just to keep up with the Lions and Murray but for their own sporting ambition – and Swann sees no harm in aiming high, albeit characteristically tongue-in-cheek.
“If we do well, in seven weeks’ time and you get swept up in the euphoria and you end up with MBEs,” he said. “No hang on, half our team have got MBEs already – knighthoods, let us say, let’s dream big.”
Meanwhile, Australia are preparing to “unleash” a new generation of prospective Ashes-winners on England in the first Investec Test at Trent Bridge.
Vice-captain Brad Haddin is one of several in Michael Clarke’s team who might conceivably be scarred by back-to-back series defeats against England.
The wicketkeeper is adamant he is not, and also at pains to emphasise the contributions which may be made this summer by a clutch of tourists in the infancy of their international careers.
Unlike Clarke, Haddin and Shane Watson, Australia’s developing pace attack – Peter Siddle apart – are about to get their first chance to make an impact on England.
“I think we’ve got some very exciting players in our squad,” said Haddin. “One thing we have in our favour is you just don’t know what some of these guys are capable of on the international stage. We’ve got a lot of talent in that room.
Batsmen such as Ed Cowan and Chris Rogers, albeit both in their 30s, come into that category. But it is a clutch of fast bowlers, led by the potential of James Pattinson, that Haddin sees as an especially enticing prospect.
“They can’t wait to have a crack in this Test match,” he said.