Tuesday, 5 June 2012


In an age in which professional sportsmen are media trained to within an inch of losing their free will, Notts and England off-spinner Graeme Swann’s twinkle-eyed humour, vivid turn of phrase, steadfast refusal to take anything too seriously, and all-round enthusiasm for everything from tinned beefburgers in gravy to daytime telly make him a media man’s dream interview. He dead bats about as many questions as he does deliveries when out in the middle, where he is invariably found doing what the experts call “swinging from the ring”.  

Anyway, this time last summer I buttonholed the self-styled “worldwide trend leader in hairstyles for men who look fifteen years younger than they actually are” in the Trent Bridge pavilion after a rare outing for his county and asked if he’d mind filling out a daft questionnaire. At that very moment he was heading out with one of the Notts coaching staff to have a practice bowl on the square, but told me to leave it with the county’s media manager Michael Temple and that he’d attend to it. At the time, he wasn’t bowling as well as he can do and an opportunity to get a few overs under his belt going into the Sri Lanka Test series was scuppered by Warwickshire trouncing Notts by nine wickets, so it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to have politely refused, especially given the amount of media requests he no doubt already receives. (Yes, Dear Reader, me sheepishly asking him to fill in a form while mumbling “LeftLion” constitutes a “media request” in this neck of the woods.)  

A few weeks rolled by without any sign of the questionnaire (which I’d printed off and left for him in a SAE with the ever obliging Mr Temple). ‘Oh well, good try’, I thought at some point in June before giving it up as a failure and allowing it to drift off into oblivion.

However, two months later, the day before the Second Test against India here at Trent Bridge, the postman popped a letter through the door with the address spelled out in my (frankly, quite neat) handwriting. It didn’t immediately register what the post was, but then I opened it up and saw Swanny’s questionnaire, diligently written out in his (frankly, not quite as neat) handwriting. What an absolute legend! Especially as I might possibly have tried to impress upon him, urgently, that I was just starting out in journalism – part-time, alongside my main career of highbrow daydreaming – and that this sort of thing would be gold, gold I tells ya. Well, it wasn’t that exactly, which is partly why I’m still sat on it 10 months later…  

Anyway, I’m sure Swanny’s next book will dedicate a chapter to how he agonised for two months over his answers and only once he was 100% satisfied did he submit, but for the time being I’ll just leave you with his answers…

illustration:  Moi
If you could win an Olympic gold (winter or summer) in any discipline, which would you want to win at?
The luge

You win a £10m luxury property in a competition and can choose anywhere in the world to have it – where would you go for?
St Ann’s, Nottingham

You have been sentenced to death (wrongly, of course) – what would be your final tipple?
A gallon of absinthe

What superpower would you most like to have?

If someone was popping round to your house and you wanted to make an impression, say something about yourself, what specific piece of culture – maybe a movie, a CD/album, a book, a painting, whatever – would you leave casually lying around in order to show off your personality?
Dumb and Dumber

You’re cooking dinner and need to impress – what’s your signature dish, your ‘banker’?
Bacon sandwiches

If you were a top-class darts player, what would be your nickname?
‘The Shoplifter’ – never gets to a checkout

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?
The life and times of Kerry Katona

If you could be reincarnated as any animal, what would you choose and why?
Aardvark. I like ants.

Which musical instrument would you love to be able to play to genius level?
I already play guitar to genius level

Excluding cricket, what would be your fantasy sporting experience or achievement (which sport, which event, and what’s the ‘state of play’)?
Division 2 Playoffs

If you could be anyone else in the world for 24 hours, who would you go for?
Jimmy Anderson

If you started a band, what would you call it?
I already have a band – do your research! [Author’s note: I did know this; I just forgot to print off a specially tailored questionnaire with “question not applicable to Graeme Swann, Brett Lee or AB de Villiers” written on it in red pen with an asterisk]

What is your least favourite genre of music?

What is your favourite UK regional accent?

You win a 2-minute Supermarket Sweep-style smash-and-grab, but in any shop in the world – which one would you choose?

Which Premier League footballer would you say is the equivalent of you as a cricketer (same style, temperament, skills, or looks, maybe)?
Titus Bramble

What is your karaoke tune, the one that allows you to express yourself the best (or at least not embarrass yourself too much)?
Erasure, ‘A Little Respect’

In the film of your life so far, which actor would play you?
Brad Pitt, obviously.

What’s your ‘TV Heaven’ and ‘Telly Hell’?
Heaven: Family Guy. Hell: Made in Essex

Which 5 ingredients would be in your ‘desert island salad’ (excluding condiments, etc)?
Eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and chips (can I have brown sauce too?)

Your house is burning down, which 3 non-living objects would you grab on the way out?
My X-box, second X-box, and a teaspoon

Finish the sentence: “If I wasn’t a pro cricketer, I’d probably be a…”

What do you see yourself doing when you retire from the game?

What is the meaning of life?
Going to the moon

This was first published by LeftLion

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