London, May 11 (ANI): England off-spinner Graeme Swann spent almost a decade drifting in the backwaters of cricket and was destined to be an unfulfilled talent.
Now he is the world's leading Test wicket-taker in 2009 and dreaming of an Ashes series and maybe even an MBE.
His transformation from ugly duckling to proud Swann is remarkable, reports The Sun.
The Notts all-rounder scored 63 not out and took six wickets in last week's first Test against the West Indies at Lords.
He was chosen for the tour of South Africa in 1999-20 at 20 but was hopelessly under-prepared.
Swann, now 30, said: "I wasn't good enough then. I had a few rough years but they have helped make me a better bowler. I always had the knack of bowling well against overseas players. But I used to bowl too many bad balls - and now I'm gradually removing them."
Swann has 25 wickets in four Tests this year - more than anyone else - and dismissed world No 1 Shiv Chanderpaul for 0 and 4 at Lord's.
He said: "I had to pinch myself. I opened the bowling in the first innings on a green top.
"I don't think Andrew Strauss was showing off. I have a good record against their leftie opener Devon Smith. To get Chanderpaul first ball in the first innings was Roy of the Rovers stuff. Then I got him again on Friday - it was a ridiculous notion," Swann said.
"We're not allowed to think about the Ashes but it's in the back of my mind when I go to sleep. I know it takes only a couple of bad games and you're consigned to the scrap heap. I'm not going to let that happen. I want an MBE like the rest," he said. (ANI)