The senior India spinner has been in decent form in the team’s ongoing five-match series against England and picked up a seven-wicket haul in the first Test at Edgbaston.
Swann, who picked up 255 Test wickets for England in 60 matches, believes that Ashwin has the edge over Australia’s Nathan Lyon among the current crop of off-spinners.
“Ashwin is easily the best off-spinner in the world. His record in subcontinent is phenomenal and I loved the way he bowled at Edgbaston,” Swann told the Times of India.
“Australia’s Nathan Lyon has come up brilliantly and I am impressed by the fact that he has been successful back home. He hasn’t been as effective in England and I would keep Ashwin just ahead of him because of the variations he has, in addition to being brilliantly consistent,” the former England off-spinner added.
While Ashwin is Swann’s pick in Test cricket, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan is the Englishman’s choice for the best T20 spinner in the world.
“Yes, (Ashwin) is the best in Test cricket, but in T20s you can’t look beyond Rashid Khan. He has a fast arm, a great googly and a brilliant story as well,” he said.
“Rashid is just a very exciting cricketer and I would love to see him be successful in Tests as well, as and when he gets to play regularly.”
England, meanwhile, have struggled to replace Swann’s quality in the spin department ever since his retirement and the former off-spinner believes Moeen Ali can fill that hole if he can get his confidence back.
“Yes, we have struggled, but Moeen is a good spinner, but I think he doesn’t believe he is a good spinner. Unless he gets the belief back with the red ball, he will never be able to do the job in Tests. He needs to have more revs on the ball to get the batsmen out,” Swann stated.
England and India will lock horns in the fourth and penultimate Test of the five-match series at Southampton on Thursday.
Having suffered losses in Edgbaston and Lord’s, India had bounced back into contention in the five-match series by winning the third Test at Trent Bridge by 203 runs.
On Monday, Kohli and the rest of the team conducted their first net session at the Ageas Bowl upon their arrival in Southampton.
Seen hard at work at the nets was young Prithvi Shaw who has been given a maiden Test call up for India.
There was some cause of concern for Indian fans with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin not coming down to bowl in the training session. The senior Indian spinner had suffered a groin injury in the third Test at Trent Bridge and it seems he has not completely recovered as of yet. Ashwin spent time with the team physio on the sidelines and did some light batting practice.
Ravindra Jadeja was seen bowling in the nets though the Indian team management is reportedly still hopeful of Ashwin’s recovery before the start of the fourth Test.
Pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami were a busy lot in the nets on Monday while all-rounder Hardik Pandya too got in a decent workout.
The visitors are fighting against history as they look to storm their way back into the five-match series. Only one team in history has ever come back from 2-0 down to win a Test series 3-2 and that was Don Bradman’s Australia which completed the feat against England all the way back in 1936-37.
The players, this week, have been taking part in an intense fitness camp at the Army School of Physical and Training (ASPT) in Abbottabad.
Labelled the ‘retreat camp’, involving 26 players and led by captain Sarfraz Ahmed, the physical work began on Monday and will conclude on Friday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday shared images of the players hard at work in the Pakistan military establishment, under the guidance of qualified coaches.
Pakistan Cricket Team retreat camp activity at Army School of Physical & Training (ASPT), Abbotabad. pic.twitter.com/d6jzOXsFEI— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) August 28, 2018
These fitness drills form part of Pakistan’s preparation for the Asia Cup in the UAE and will be followed by another training camp for which the schedule is set to be announced at a later date.
The Asia Cup was originally slated to be held in India but uncertainty surrounding Pakistan’s players being granted visas by the Indian government saw the tournament moved to the UAE.
The biennial tournament gets underway on September 15 in Dubai with Pakistan opening their campaign a day later against a yet to be decided qualifier.
Pakistan have been drawn in the same group as their arch-rivals India and the blockbuster meeting between the two sides takes place on September 19, again in Dubai.
PAKISTAN 26-MAN PROBABLE LIST
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan Shinwari, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Junaid Khan, Sahibzada Farhan, Shan Masood, Usman Salahuddin, Asad Shafiq, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Asghar, Rahat Ali, Mir Hamza.