London: England spinner Graeme Swann has revealed he is on course to return from an elbow injury in time for this year's Ashes showdown against Australia. Swann was sidelined for England's recent drawn Test series in New Zealand after undergoing surgery in the United States earlier this month in an attempt to cure the long-standing problem.
He first visited the specialist clinic in Minnesota in 2009 and the treatment allowed him to feature as England reclaimed the Ashes from Australia later that year. But the elbow problem flared up again just before the first Test in New Zealand earlier this year, leading to concerns over Swann's long-term future.
Fortunately the surgery appears to have been successful and Swann plans to be bowling by the end of next month and available for the return series against New Zealand in May which serves as a warm-up for the Ashes.
"I feel great. I want to be back as soon as possible because I'm bored stupid already," Swann said on Thursday. "I think it would kill me if I sit down and watch too much cricket at the start of the summer without being an active part of it. I want to play as much as I can."
"By the end of April I hope to be bowling. I don't know if that's realistic or not, but that's how my mind works. The surgeon has reassured me it was a lot more straightforward this time. In an ideal world I'd be fit and proving to the coach and captain that I'm bowling well to make the first Test of the summer. That's my aim. Whether it's pie in the sky or too optimistic, that's the goal."
England have long been concerned about Swann's elbow, part of the reason he has been one of the most frequent beneficiaries of their rotation policy, particularly in one-day cricket. The 34-year-old has previously cast doubt on his likely longevity at the top level but he was upbeat when asked about the future.
"I'm not too worried. The hunger is still strong," he said.
"I love Test cricket and I'll play as long as my body can stand it, whether that's 12 Tests or 112.
"But I've not been worried about anything long term because I know I'll be fine. The last time the operation I had was far more serious and the recovery was great - he was able to sort me out and get me fit for four years of unbelievable Test cricket."
"I was bowling for three-and-a-half years relatively pain-free and that was one of the signs in New Zealand; all of a sudden I got a sore back, shoulder, abdominals. It was all down to the fact the elbow wasn't working properly. Now it's all clear and it should be right as rain."