England have a golden chance to end a difficult year on a dramatic high, yet appear wary of fighting talk as they approach the home straight of their four-Test series against India.
There was, in fact, an untypical reticence about many of Graeme Swann’s remarks yesterday as he assessed England’s prospects this week in Nagpur, where they can claim an historic 3-1 series success.
Alastair Cook’s team will not fall into the trap of talking a good game and then producing a bad one if Swann’s demeanour is anything to go by.
The off-spinner, expected to play a prominent role alongside Monty Panesar on a likely ‘result’ pitch, spoke in equal measure of England’s attacking intent and the threat still posed by India.
At the suggestion England’s hosts might be cornered, with a drawn series the best they can now salvage, he said: “It is tough, but sometimes it’s a good position to be in.
“If there’s only one possible result you can get, you can go all out fighting. The last Test of a series, if you know the result hangs on it, is normally a very exciting one.”
India have dropped three high-profile regulars from their squad after last week’s second successive defeat in Kolkata, but Swann is expecting a significant response.
“I’m sure India will come out fighting because they have to win the game,” he added. “Equally so, I’m sure we’ll approach the game thinking attack is our best form of defence.”
England Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad is awaiting the results of a scan on his injured left heel. The 26-year-old fast bowler is highly unlikely to play in the fourth Test after losing form mid-series, left practice yesterday in obvious discomfort, having picked up the knock, and returned only briefly before heading off for more treatment.
England will be primarily concerned about his fitness for two Twenty20s in Pune and Mumbai next Thursday and Saturday.