England news January 27, 2014

Swann felt 'horrendous' quitting

ESPNcricinfo staff

Graeme Swann has spoken of his heartache at quitting midway through the Ashes but believes it was the only decision he could make having felt "awful" in his bowling as the elbow problem he managed throughout his Test career became unmanageable.

Swann announced his retirement after England lost the series in Perth, at the time saying his body was no longer up to the demands of international cricket. His decision to hang up his boots with two Tests still to go split opinion between those who praised a courageous decision and others who felt he should have seen out the tour, irrespective of whether he played or not.

He had earmarked the end of the Ashes as when he would bring a close to his Test career, but as early as the warm-up matches he knew he was struggling. He had undergone a second elbow operation earlier in the year - missing the Test matches in New Zealand - and admitted that since returning during the last English season he had never felt himself.

"Quite simply, I was awful," he said on his BBC Radio Five Live programme, Not Just Cricket. "Whenever I bowled in the past, I could always get a lot of revolutions on the ball, dip and trouble most batsmen I bowled at.

"But from the outset of the tour, in the warm-up matches, I just couldn't do it. After my second elbow operation, I've never really got the same revolutions I got before it, but it just [deteriorated] and I really felt powerless to tie people down."

Swann took seven wickets at 80 in the three Tests - meaning he finished his career with 255 scalps at 29.96 - and it was during the Adelaide Test, as Australia posted 570 in the first innings, that reality began to set in for him.

"In Adelaide, I was getting hit for six by a rabbit who bats at No. 11," he said. "It gets to a point that you realise you are hindering the team. You are not helping them in any way.

"It's a horrible feeling to come to terms with because you are playing for your country, you love playing cricket for England and it's your life, but to actually come to that conclusion is possibly the most sobering decision I have ever had to make. It was horrendous."

Swann's departure as England lurched towards a whitewash fuelled speculation about a breakdown in the dressing room, a theme which gathered pace once the series was concluded with suggestions that Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen could no longer work together and that Flower would demand the batsman was dropped.

However, Swann, who has admitted to having issues with Pietersen during his career, insisted that there were no rifts or personal feuds while he was part of the squad in Australia.

"It will probably surprise people to hear that the changing-room was not divided," he said. "It was remarkably calm. People just knew we were not performing and they were doing whatever they could to improve that.

"He's had his moments in the past where he certainly has been divisive in the dressing-room, but to be fair to Kev, since coming back from his 'reintegration' he has been much improved."

Swann also defended Alastair Cook's captaincy. "He had to try and be funky as the series went on because we were terrible. People say he is not a good captain and Clarke had the rub on him but Clarke had a guy he could turn to seemingly at any point who could get a wicket and Cooky never had that," he said.

"No man could have captained us this winter. There is not a man on earth. If we had brought back Mike Brearley he wouldn't have done any good. We were terrible."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 29, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    Can you really dismiss somebody as a 'rabbit'... if your team did not dismiss him ONCE in a five match series?

  • Brady on January 29, 2014, 12:58 GMT

    Interesting piece of revisionist history. Swann has never bowled well in Australia. And the elbow didn't seem to be troubling him too much in the English home Ashes.

  • Steve on January 29, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    AAPatel et all you aussies having a pop at Swanny : Seems we've forgotten the mid-ashes departure of one Damien Martyn, not so long ago, have we?

  • David on January 29, 2014, 0:39 GMT

    Wonderful cricketer, talented man, and one of the few sportsmen to be genuinely amusing when interviewed. He was so right to stand down. There again, given his fitness problems he should never have been picked. Nor should Trott. Nor probably should Tremlett (who bowled military medium all season) or Finn or Bres or Rankin ... Oh, and Bairstow shouldn't have been there either, although just because he is not up to it and never was. On a different topic, what exactly is Dernbach doing in the T20 squad? There must be at least a dozen English seamers who can bowl better (Willey, Topley, Napier - ok he is 34, but he can bat too -, Meaker ...).

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    @proudbrummie The difference with Warne is that he didn't really need a googly, he was still spinning it miles and taking stacks of wickets. Whereas Swann on the otherhand has never really had that much variation, and more relied on big spin + the occasional arm ball. Since that 2nd operation it is clear that he was nowhere near the bowler that he was, he was not spinning it anywhere near as much, and was clearly starting to look increasingly more ineffective as time went on, and hence has become a much easier bowler to get hold of.

    This would have been his last series anyway, but I can't help but feel that this was a tour too far for him, especially as he didn't look right during the home Ashes IMO, despite taking over 20 wickets, he just didn't look like anywhere near the same bowler as he did a couple of years ago in my view.

  • des on January 28, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    inexcusable behaviour, warne had similar probs and cxouldnt bowl his googly late on in his career, Sadly Swan bottled it! He was imho the best spinner England have had since Derek Underwood. But however you dress it up, he let himself his team & his country down. I went to Sydney for the trip of a lifetime, however England let the fans down with a display as pathetic as I can ever recall! It was embarrassing in the extreme.How any7one can defend him is beyond belief, they certainly do not understand Team mentality, all for one and one for all!

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    Swann came into the series with a deserved aura, based on his ability to get swerve and dip on the ball, through very high revs. If the England selectors believed that the Australians didn't know that his elbow no longer permitted him to bowl with these weapons, they could be pardoned for trying to bluff their way to a few wickets, even though Swann was only coasting. If the Australians knew the truth, and their plan to target Swann was based on the knowledge that he was just rolling the ball down, the England gamble was a failure from the start. If it only succeeded by chance (because he could no longer fool them in the flight) it became a failure within a match or two. In either case, Swann was entirely justified in bowing out, having played his part in this attempted bluff.

  • S on January 28, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    The article evades the most obvious question: why quit in mid-series? Swann could have gone up to his captain and coach and told them what he tells us in this article: "I don't have it any more, please drop me for the remaining two tests. I'll be happy to carry the drinks if you want me to, or help Monty in any way I can in the rest of the series." That's it - as simple as that. Would have brought a dignified if low-key end to a very good career. But he had to place his ego above everything else, and not care a whit for the impact of that sudden departure on the rest of the team - especially after Trott had left in the way he had.

  • Allan on January 27, 2014, 23:12 GMT

    Swann and this article sum up English cricket team really. Assuming he could play at 70% or less and still beat Australia. Did you honestly think you could just rock up and win a 4th series in a row? Attitude and high self opinion always leads to a fall, in this case 9-1. More importantly, a ruined elbow doesn't stop you swallowing your pride so you can support your team mates. Harris has been bowling with one knee for his whole Test career, including several losing series. He carried drinks when sitting out games. You have the nerve to question KP's character? Interesting cheap shot at Lyon, who remained not out for the series against all England's bowlers. How many rabbits in the England tail Swann? Hilarious that England continue to mock Lyon, how many key wickets did he get in the series?

  • ESPN on January 27, 2014, 22:27 GMT

    Can't understand why people are laying into Swanny quite so hard. He knew he couldn't contribute properly and he knew the selectors wouldn't drop him so he retired there and then. It's not as if there wasn't another spinner on tour - let's not forget that Monty once wore the mantle of 'best since Underwood'. Everyone knew that this was Swann's last tour and the fact that there is no ready replacement is hardly his fault. England attempted to blood Kerrigan and it failed. Such is life.

    As for the rabbit comment - Lyon is statistically the best Test no.11 of all time but but so what? Rabbit doesn't exactly equate to serial killer! Swann was brilliant for England - I wish him all the best.

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