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Graeme Swann backs James Anderson to take five-wicket haul in final England Test

Graeme Swann has hailed James Anderson as England’s best-ever bowler and backed his former team-mate to sign off from Test cricket with a five-wicket haul against West Indies.

Anderson will bring the curtain down on a remarkable international career with a farewell appearance in the first Test at Lord’s, which starts on Wednesday.

The 41-year-old, informed last month that England were ready to look towards the future, will come full circle with his final Test outing set to take place two decades on from his debut against Zimbabwe at the same ground in 2003.

“I think it is great he is getting to end it here at Lord’s. It bookends his career nicely,” Swann told the PA news agency.

“He got five-fer on debut and he’ll get five-fer in the Test here, I guarantee it.

“It is the end of an era and he has been our best bowler that we’ve ever produced. Full stop. Not arguably. He is the best bowler we’ve ever produced.

“He is very single-minded, very technical and he’s got fitter and fitter. He’s actually fitter now than he was at 25 because his diet when I played with him was a joke!

“Mainly because I was buying it but he has really dedicated himself to having a long career and that longevity has paid off.

“He is a brilliant, skilful bowler and also the grumpiest man in the world, which makes him horrible to play against.”

Swann played 60 Tests between 2008 and 2013, with the majority alongside Anderson, who currently has 700 scalps in 187 red-ball matches for England.

The introduction of Swann into the Test set-up coincided with a golden period where Lancashire seamer Anderson started to produce his extraordinary levels of consistency on a regular basis.

Three consecutive Ashes wins were achieved, including the memorable 2010-11 tour in Australia, and England reached the top of the ICC Test rankings.

“Well, we were thick as thieves for many years me and Jimmy and I don’t want to disclose why. He is my mate isn’t he,” Swann reflected.

“I used to just love just travelling to the ground every day. He’s got a great taste in music, which the England team I was in that stood out because they were horrific.

“With Jimmy, no he knows his music. We used to travel to the game every day, same playlist and bang out White Lies and stuff like that. Amazing.”

  • 187 Tests

  • 700 wickets

  • 32 five-wicket hauls

  • Four Ashes wins

  • One half-century

While Anderson and Swann formed a formidable partnership, on the odd occasion they failed to see eye-to-eye, with the 45-year-old able to recall an amusing Test with South Africa at Lord’s in 2012.

Swann explained: “I misfielded off him on day one and he didn’t speak to me for three solid days. Seriously. And then he dropped AB de Villiers at short midwicket, the easiest catch you’ve ever seen and then just walked past me.

“I was waiting for the apology and he said, ‘serves you right’ and walked off. That’s Jimmy for you! I think he should go into stand-up and do a Jack Dee routine. I think he would be good.”

Yet, England are not ready to completely discard with Anderson’s talents.

A new role as fast bowling mentor for this summer has been created by Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket.

“As soon as you finish you’re relevant, you’ve got all the knowledge, you’re still fresh and he is a brilliant coach,” Swann added.

“I have seen him do it with all the bowlers who come into the England team over the years. He takes them aside and they become instantly a better bowler after he’s had a 10-minute chat.”