Cape Town – Former England cricketer Graeme Swann has labelled India‘s Ravichandran Ashwin as “easily the best off-spinner in the world”, ahead of this week‘s fourth Test in Southampton.

Ashwin played a small role in India‘s triumph in the third Test, which reduced England‘s lead in the five-match series to two-one. He had taken seven important wickets in the series opener in Birmingham.

The 31-year-old has taken 324 wickets in 61 Tests, at an impressive average of 25.45 – and will likely be retained for the clash at the Rose Bowl.

“His record in sub-continent is phenomenal and I loved the way he bowled at Edgbaston,” Swann told the Times of India.

“Australia‘s Nathan Lyon has come up brilliantly and I am impressed by the fact that he has been successful back home. He hasn‘t been as effective in England and I would keep Ashwin just ahead of him because of the variations he has, in addition to being brilliantly consistent.”

All-rounder Moeen Ali is pushing for a recall, after impressive performances for Worcestershire in the County Championship. If Ali returned, leg-spinner Adil Rashid would probably be sidelined.

“Yes, we have struggled, but Moeen is a good spinner, but I think he doesn‘t believe he is a good spinner,” added Swann.

“Unless he gets the belief back with the red ball, he will never be able to do the job in Tests. He needs to have more revs on the ball to get the batsmen out.”