GRAEME SWANN has outlined England’s determination to create a global dynasty as they look to build on their achievement of becoming Test No 1.
The off-spinner said that was the team’s next target after a year in which they rose to the top of the world rankings.
England hit the summit with a 4-0 victory over India last summer following a memorable Ashes triumph Down Under.
Swann says the next challenge is to lift their game to a new level and aim for the type of domination enjoyed by the great Australian and West Indian teams of recent times.
In the 1970s to 1980s, the West Indies were comfortably the standout side in international cricket.
They possessed bravura batsmen such as Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge, along with a pace bowling battery that featured such star names as Malcolm Marshall and Andy Roberts.
Then, as the West Indies’ star faded, Australia’s became the brightest in the firmament as they dominated world cricket in the late 1990s to early 2000s.
Batsmen such as Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh, along with bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, helped establish a hegemony broken only by a raft of retirements after the 2006-07 Ashes.
Swann said England needed to take those teams as their inspiration as they look to build on a stunning year.
Having worked hard to get to No 1, the Nottinghamshire man stressed their aim must be to stay there as long as possible.
“There isn’t what you’d call a standout team in world cricket at the moment,” said Swann, who has taken 153 wickets in 36 Tests at 28.82.
“There’s no team like the Aussies in the early 2000s or the West Indies in the 1980s.
“Our job is to try to be that team who stands out like those two great sides did.
“Hopefully, that’s what we can do over the next five or six years.”
England return to Test duty in the new year when they play three games against Pakistan in the UAE followed by a two-Test series in Sri Lanka.
They then face the West Indies and South Africa in three-match series in England next summer.
“Next year will be a very big test for us,” said Swann, who sits fourth in the Test bowling rankings behind Dale Steyn, James Anderson and Morne Morkel.
“We’ve got some tough matches coming up, and more than anything I’m really looking forward to the South Africa series at home.
“They’re a very hard team to play against and I think they’ve got some world-class players, especially in the bowling department.
“In English conditions as well, I think they’re the one team who come over and really adapt to them quickly, so that’s going to be one hell of a series.”
Although Swann accepts tougher challenges lie ahead, he refutes the idea England would only be worthy recipients of the No 1 tag if they go on to beat the likes of South Africa.
“I think that would be a very English and pessimistic way of looking at things,” he said.
“It’s like winning the Premier League in football and saying, ‘Yes, but we got lucky because Man United lost to Arsenal last week.’
“The fact is, we deserve to be No 1 and we’ve got there by playing two-and-a-half years of high-class Test cricket – not two-and-a-half weeks.
“That’s how you’re judged, over a period of time, and, in my view, we should be rightly proud of where we are.
“How we stay there, of course, is a different thing altogether. But I certainly don’t ever look at it and think that we don’t deserve to be No 1.
“If we don’t deserve it, then who does? Because if people are saying that we haven’t played this team or we haven’t played that team, that we haven’t won in this country or we haven’t won in that country, then no one can ever really claim to be No 1 because each series only comes round every so often.”
Swann, 32, has had a break from cricket since the one-day tour of India in October – time to take stock of a remarkable year.
It was a year in which he played his part with 27 wickets in eight Tests and in which England displaced India at the top of the pile.
“It has been a stunning year and I am very proud of everything that we’ve achieved,” he added.
“Time flies and it seems amazing to me that the Ashes victory was less than 12 months ago, and it’s still unbelievable how well that series went.
“Then the India series at home could not have gone any better either.
“It’s just been a brilliant year and a brilliant effort to get to No 1; now the task is to keep it going.”