Graeme Swann played 60 Test matches for England all over the world and at all the best and biggest stadia on the planet.
But amongst all those magnificent venues the former off-spinner rates the atmosphere at Edgbaston as “unique.”
And Swann can’t wait to be back at the ground next week, for the inaugural day-night Test in this country, against West Indies – though not as a player this time, of course, but a member of the BBC’s ever-popular Test Match Special team.
Edgbaston, with the Hollies Stand in full voice, is just amazing. I think it’s the closest that you get as a cricketer, to knowing what it’s like to be a professional footballer.Graeme Swann
Swann has deeply fond memories of playing at Edgbaston, not just from the buzz of performing in front of the famously passionate crowds but for some personal success he achieved there too.
Not least in 2010 when his match-winning haul of 37-20-65-6 against Pakistan included the wicket of Imran Farhat to a ball which pitched outside leg-stump and hit the top of off.
A candidate for ball-of-the-century, for sure. Oh, hold on…
“Not just a candidate,” smiles Graeme. “It was the ball of the century!
“Shane Warne’s unplayable ball to Mike Gatting was in the 20th century so mine was ball of the century for the 21st!
“I don’t know how it happened. It must have been a fluke, but it was certainly the best ball I ever bowled.”
The brilliant delivery evoked a giant roar from the Edgbaston crowd of course, as England charged towards a nine-wicket victory. And that is the sort of backing which England’s players know they are going to get in Birmingham – and can look forward to at the first day/night Test in this country next week.
Swann loved playing Test cricket at Edgbaston because it is fun – even during quieter periods on the field.
“I loved playing there because there is always something happening.” he said. “I used to stand at slip and look around and there was always something going on in the crowd. I remember one time watching a six-foot banana being chased around the Hollies Stand by 24 gorillas. You don’t get that everywhere!
“The atmosphere generated at Edgbaston, especially in the Hollies Stand late in the day, is unique. Every ground has its own charm – at Lord’s for example, the VIPS are all there and it feels like a nice summer event.
“But at Edgbaston, with the Hollies Stand in full voice, it is just amazing. I think it’s the closest that you get as a cricketer, to knowing what it’s like to be a professional footballer.”
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