DUBAI // An English Premier League football team in the Indian Premier League (IPL)? Now there is a good idea, according to Graeme Swann, England-off-spinner-cum-centre-forward. "That would be great, I would happily play for Newcastle United," he said. The one flaw being that Lalit Modi, the IPL chief, has said it is a Premier League team who have sounded him out about joining his cricket empire.
He has claimed one of the top clubs in England have enquired about buying one of the expansion franchises in the league. Newcastle, of course, are in the Championship, but that does not worry Swann. "Sunderland are going to be bankrupt soon, like the rest of the Premier League. Newcastle cleverly went down last year, got their balloon payment and are building gradually to complete European domination over the next three years," added the spinner, his Geordie (north-east of England) dialect clear through his grin.
With a tour of Bangladesh looming, England's temporary captain, Alastair Cook, will be grateful he still has the team joker, Swann, in tow. Paul Collingwood hinted at the mindset of the England tour squad this week when he said: "It won't be easy finding a golf course in Bangladesh." Swann remained as upbeat as ever, despite the prospect of facing up against the big-hitting batsmen of Pakistan, Twenty20's world champions, in Dubai this weekend. He even thinks Cook would be well advised to appoint him as his deputy for the Bangladesh leg of the trip.
"Certainly in my head, I am 100 per cent behind 'Swann for the vice-captaincy role'," he said. "I don't know whether there will be one or whether we need one. I don't think you necessarily need one, if you have a good team spirit, which we have at the minute, and if you have got a decent captain, which we have in Straussy and hopefully Cooky will take over that mantle. "You don't need a vice-captain. All he does is go to the team meeting and nod his head. He doesn't have a say in anything.
"I think that is perfect for me. Pretend I have the responsibility, people will nod at me then turn the other way. It has happened all my life." England's senior side line up against their second string in Abu Dhabi tonight, and Swann says they are treating it like a full international match. "It is good to get a game under our belt before the Pakistan games, but it should be very tough," he added.
"I'm being half-serious when I say they should turn us over. Hopefully one or two of our superstars will come to the party and it won't be too much of an embarrassment. "Bowling in the nets [yesterday] I felt like I haven't bowled for about six years, so I am expecting the worst. This is good match practice leading up to the Pakistan game, but we are certainly treating it as a full international. That has become vogue on the recent tours.
"Since we got humiliated in India a couple of times, Andrew Strauss [the regular England captain] has been massive on the fact that when we are on tour we can't mess around in these games." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org