Melbourne: Spinner Graeme Swann, who has been billed by spin legend Shane Warne as the one who holds the key to England`s Ashes defence against Australia this summer, believes he was "rubbish" five years ago and wasn`t good enough to perform at the Test level.
Warne had recently rated Swann as the most improved player in world cricket and said that if the spinner falls over and breaks a leg, England would surely find themselves in serious trouble.
"I was rubbish when I played against him (Warne) five years ago. I was just dwindling away in county cricket. I was enjoying my time but I wasn`t good enough to perform at Test level," Swann recalled.
"It`s nice he (Warne) remembers me in the first place because I didn`t really give him any reason to, and he recognises I`ve been bowling well recently," Swann was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press.
The English tweaker, who has taken 113 wickets from 24 Test outings, insists he is not feeling any extra pressure ahead of the five-Test series against Australia, starting at the Gabba on November 25.
"It`s very nice when people say that (I hold the key), especially the best bowler in the world ever. But I don`t feel any extra pressure, I feel the same pressure that you do as the single spinner in a four-man attack. I know I`m going to have to bowl a lot of overs," Swann said.
The 31-year-old feels he has a serious point to prove in Australia this summer.
Swann conceded he was barely more than a passenger in last year`s Ashes triumph in England, collecting just 14 wickets at an average of 40.5 during the series.
"I don`t think I bowled particularly well through that last Ashes series. A couple of matches aside I was a little bit below par, probably just riding the wave, if you like, of the Ashes.”
"This time around I`m looking forward to hopefully carrying on the form I had in South Africa last year (21 wickets at 31.38) on very similar wickets where I bowled fairly well and was able to hold an end down and pick up a few scalps along the way," he said.