Anderson pulled up on the first morning in Birmingham, and has since been ruled out for an extended period after a failed bid to regain fitness in time for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
In his absence, England have lost at both Edgbaston and Headingley, while their solitary victory required a remarkable fightback at Headingley after collapsing to 67 all out in the first innings.
Steve Smith, who sat out of Australia’s defeat at Headingley with concussion, has been key to the tourists’ success, scoring 671 in just five innings.
His twin centuries at Edgbaston turned the first Test in Australia’s favour, while he piled on a quickfire 82 at Old Trafford just as England were threatening to crowbar their way back into the Test match late on the fourth day. That after a double ton in the first innings – his third against England – banished memories of a difficult final day in Leeds for the visitors.
Though the England bowling attack has impressed in spells during the series, their inability to remove Smith has ultimately cost them the series.
“Steve Smith has had an incredible series,” Swann told Standard Sport. “He’s got very lucky by the fact that Jimmy is not fit and not able to play because in these helpful conditions for the ball swinging that is Smith’s major Achilles heel.
“The last Ashes here – three Test matches when it was wet and it swung – he averaged about three and a half against Jimmy. The two games where it didn’t he plundered big hundreds, so he’s he’s definitely benefited from the lack of Jimmy Anderson.”
England head to The Oval with the chief aim of salvaging a draw and dampening the Australian celebrations, though it would scarcely paint a fair picture of a series which Australia have dominated. Indeed, the tourists were an incorrect lbw call away from victory at Headingley and can count themselves unlucky not to be heading back to the capital with the series sewn up at 3-0.
But it is an indication of the fine margins involved that a draw is still within reach, and perhaps even more so that Swann believes Anderson’s calf swung the series completely.
Asked if England would have won with Anderson, Swann added: “Yeah, I think so because of the helpful conditions.
“I’ve never played against anyone in the world who’s a genius against proper pacy swing bowling.
The Betfair Ambassador added: “Archer and Broad have been brilliant in this series. Archer’s bowled way too many overs by the end of it because Jim is not playing. Jimmy can Bowl 25 overs a day at the same pace, swinging it. It’s hard for Archer to do that because he’s a strike bowler.
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