Cardiff: England captain Alastair Cook believes back-up spinner James Tredwell has given him a selection headache for the ICC Champions Trophy final should first-choice Graeme Swann be fit.
The Kent off-spinner has filled in for his illustrious teammate in impressive fashion in the tournament so far. Some of his exploits include taking three for 19 in seven overs in Wednesday’s seven-wicket semi-final thrashing of South Africa.
Swann has struggled with back and calf problems this summer and has played only once in the Champions Trophy so far, claiming one for 50 in the group stage defeat by Sri Lanka.
He is a major doubt for Sunday’s final as England will be keen not to hamper his chances of playing in the upcoming Ashes series but, should he be available, Cook admits it would now be difficult to drop Tredwell.
“It’s going to be a very tough selection call if Swanny is fit,” he said. “It’s a good headache to have. We’ve been saying how lucky we are to have Tredders as back up, but he’s more than back up at the moment — he’s been outstanding.
“So it’s going to be a tough selection call if Swanny is fit, but we won’t risk it if it’s touch and go.”
All of England’s bowlers impressed in the win over South Africa, who were reduced to 80 for eight before eventually being bowled out for 175. And Cook praised his attack, saying: “If you had said we would win by seven wickets by 5 o’clock as we walked to the ground, obviously we would have almost laughed at you. But clearly it was a good toss to win, we adjusted well enough and it swung for us.
“When it does swing like that, there is no bowler in the world you would want other than Jimmy [James Anderson] bowling with it. He was outstanding, and the other guys backed him up. Obviously Finny [Steven Finn] took the crucial wicket of [Hashim] Amla, and we knew how important that was. And Tricky Tredders [Tredwell] also bowled very well.”
England fans were plunged into gloom after the defeat to Sri Lanka, but back-to-back victories have helped them regain confidence ahead of the final.
“We have spoken about people standing up and delivering, and that’s how you win One-day games,” Cook said.
“Two or three people can win a game for you if they play well and that’s happened against us when [Kumar] Sangakkara got that fantastic hundred.
“Now we have done it twice now with the last two teams we’ve played against. We just need one more performance from the 11 guys that are picked [on Sunday]. Two of the guys stand up and deliver a performance, a man of the match performance like that, and you can win the trophy. That’s how exciting and how close you are to doing it. It’s a good dressing room to be in when you’re in the final of a major tournament.”
And Cook feels that winning the Champions Trophy would be the perfect preparation for the Ashes.
“If we can win I think it would be a great achievement. It’s very hard to compare between one-day and the Ashes, but it’s very clear that at the beginning of summer we had certain goals we wanted to achieve, and one of them was to win the Champions Trophy.
“We have given ourselves a great opportunity to do that. If we turn up and deliver good skills, we have a good chance of winning.”