The Ashes 2013-14 December 22, 2013

Swann mistaken not to see it through

At their time of need, Graeme Swann has decided to desert his team-mates
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First Jonathan Trott is forced out of the Ashes tour with a stress-related illness and now, with Christmas approaching, Graeme Swann wisecracks his way into the sunset. If anybody doubted that this England team has been well and truly broken by Australia, they must surely accept it now.

Swann has been a wonderful servant for England, not just one of the most successful England offspinners of all time but a perpetually uplifting presence, living proof that you can still play - and talk about - international cricket with a sense of fun.

He was almost 30 when he reached the England side and he was a rounded personality relishing the opportunity. We should all be immensely grateful for that.

But the nagging feeling remains that Swann is wrong: wrong to retire now with the Test series still incomplete, wrong not to see it through to the end - whether picked or not - to stand alongside his team-mates after a failed Ashes challenge and at least reach the finishing line together.

That the series is already lost is largely immaterial. It is a matter of appearances, of collective will in good times and bad. Countless boxers have reached the final rounds so far behind on points, so lacking in energy to have any hope of a knockout punch that their only pride rests in hearing the bell ring for the end of the final round, to have been there at the end.

But there is something awry in this England squad, an exhaustion that is defeating good men. England's immense management team might still be functioning, but many of the players they are supervising are spent: so spent that they can barely see beyond themselves. They are no longer thinking straight.

It will seem perfectly appropriate to Swann to stand down now. He will be able to enjoy a family Christmas and New Year not caring that the clock has crept past midnight, or if the extra glass of wine is unprofessional.

He says he is being unselfish by getting out before the end of the series, by admitting to himself that, after his elbow operations, he no longer has the resilience to bowl long second-innings spells, especially when England have batted so poorly that they have not allowed him the recovery time he needs. He, above all, will know that. His analysis of his own game, as it stands now, should be respected.

But ultimately selection is not his job. It does not matter how spent he felt when Australia kept hitting him back over his head. He is contracted to see it through. It is the role of Andy Flower, as team director, and Alastair Cook, as captain, to choose an XI for Melbourne and Sydney than can best serve the collective in times of need - and, in discussion with him, to decide if he is worth a place in the final XI. By retiring now, Swann has not allowed them that opportunity.

This is not to accuse Swann of betrayal, or of fleeing a sinking ship. That is not the intention. But, if he did feel that retirement was the only option, there was no need to tell Australia until the series was over.

It is not sanctimonious simply to observe that there is something deeply unsettling about this, a suggestion that an England team which has revelled in the good times - not just revelled in them, actively helped to create them - is looking less impressive now Australia have beaten them so soundly.

England's mental and physical exhaustion, the result of a financially-driven and unsustainable international programme, could not be clearer. That unsustainable programme comes hand in hand with intense micro-management which makes heavy demands of all players in an attempt to maximise success. That cohesion is breaking down.

Retirement in the middle of a series is traditionally reserved for beaten captains, who feel responsibility for general failure, and for those so badly injured the end of their career is inevitable. The rest have tended to stick it out.

By choosing to retire now, Swann, subconsciously at least, is asserting his rights as an individual, in the face of intolerable demands, to retire when he pleases.

Swann talks of his love for the England family as much as anybody. It is not an affectation, it comes from the heart. It has been part of England's success. But after their hounding from Australia, this England family is looking increasingly dysfunctional. It would have done no harm to wait a fortnight.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Juiceoftheapple on December 23, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Swann's retirement is a matter for England and England's fans. Regarding those spinners who are 'better', when they have his wickets then they can be spoken in the same breath. As for Johnson's singling out by the barmy army, I found that distasteful then and I respect the way he responded. As for Swann, I'm a huge fan, but only he knows whether his body can take it. As for the timing of it, if Flower was going to drop him, regardless. We have been hammered by Aus, the series is dead. Trotts gone. Restructuring has been forced on us early by Aus, and there is NO benefit for England whatsover for Swann dragging it out. The sooner we face up to restructuring, the quicker the transition will be. Swann will be ridiculed by those of other countries who would rather forget how he defeated them. The man is a legend, plus he's got the conviction to know when to retire. It will take 2 years to rebuild but we'll be back. Long live the team who hammered Aus and India home and away.Long live Swan

  • Meety on December 23, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @neil99 on (December 23, 2013, 0:25 GMT) - Swann is not a spring chicken - he is 34, with chronic elbow problems - it is obvious to MOST people other than you or the ECB - that he was going to break one way or another! Ask most cricket fans which format they would prefer to be dominant in & it would be TEST cricket. If I was a Pom - I would rather he played 10 Tests ONLY for England this year. A bit like how Peter Siddle is currently a Test specialist! "Players in the 70s and 80s had to endour arduos tours with countless warm up games, plus a heavy domestic schedule" - predominatly playing FC cricket. Limited over cricket was barely played at an International level prior to the 80s. Look what fast bowlers need to do to be considered for limited over fixtures - they need to throw themselves around like a nimble batsmen - bowl one over spells (try keeping loose doing that 4 times over 90min), & basically jog back to the top of their mark - with no OFF SEASON to recuperate!

  • woodgreen on December 23, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson gets pilloried in the last Ashes series in Aus.By the Barmy Army,by the Aussie press et al.What does he do.Retire?Go home citing stress?Or keep working and blast us away next time.Maybe Warner had a point.We are not allowed to say this but there would appear to be a air of weakness in the England team.Im afraid Swanns retirement mid series will always leave a bad taste and is an undignified end to a great career.Sing when youre winning

  • on December 23, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    If he knows he cannot contribute 100% and going by his statements this was always in the back of his mind - perhaps it is the best thing for him not to play?

  • heathrf1974 on December 23, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Maybe England is over-managed and the players can't think for themselves.

  • __PK on December 23, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    Well, he batted without courage in 3 consecutive second innings when England was already beaten in the tests, so why expect him to play when the series is already lost. Typically classy exit.

  • humdrum on December 23, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    By the yardstick of 'having nothing much to offer England' there's a likely list of players falling into that category. The foremost among them is Prior. The bowling of Anderson has been nothing to shout about and the reserves do not have the confidence of the team director,who himself is past his 'sell by' date.So looking forward to a big exodus in the near future. By the way,there should be a compilation( with case studies) of all Eng players who have quit midway through a series,since no other cricket playing nations have that honour.

  • Thegimp on December 23, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    This has been a mental disintegration masterclass by the Aussies. Not only are they three nil up, but their oposition squad is imploding!

    This will be written about and read 100s of years from now!! This great England squad who have been at the top of the test ratings for such a long time, won world cups and dominated all forms of the game for so long have got so far ahead of themselves they have cast off without making sure the bungs in the boat have been put in.

  • redbrand on December 23, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    Funny how 4 months ago he was leading wicket taker in Ashes in UK, no problems then!

  • gop_cricket on December 23, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    Wow, what a good write. Yes at least Swan should have stayed till the end of the series. But let us all respect his decision, since he knows well than anyone where he stand on his game. But the truth will be never known and will not unless Swan wants to share with entire world why he took that decision so hastily. Let us not much poke into him and try to learn this instead let us all give a fair farewell to this tremendous cricketer. After Warne and Murali went into their retirements two top class spinners we can make are Swan and Saied Ajmal who though not achieved the greatness of former players promised a lot in their way up. Wish you good luck Swany and hope you will have good success in what ever you choose your next career.

  • Juiceoftheapple on December 23, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Swann's retirement is a matter for England and England's fans. Regarding those spinners who are 'better', when they have his wickets then they can be spoken in the same breath. As for Johnson's singling out by the barmy army, I found that distasteful then and I respect the way he responded. As for Swann, I'm a huge fan, but only he knows whether his body can take it. As for the timing of it, if Flower was going to drop him, regardless. We have been hammered by Aus, the series is dead. Trotts gone. Restructuring has been forced on us early by Aus, and there is NO benefit for England whatsover for Swann dragging it out. The sooner we face up to restructuring, the quicker the transition will be. Swann will be ridiculed by those of other countries who would rather forget how he defeated them. The man is a legend, plus he's got the conviction to know when to retire. It will take 2 years to rebuild but we'll be back. Long live the team who hammered Aus and India home and away.Long live Swan

  • Meety on December 23, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @neil99 on (December 23, 2013, 0:25 GMT) - Swann is not a spring chicken - he is 34, with chronic elbow problems - it is obvious to MOST people other than you or the ECB - that he was going to break one way or another! Ask most cricket fans which format they would prefer to be dominant in & it would be TEST cricket. If I was a Pom - I would rather he played 10 Tests ONLY for England this year. A bit like how Peter Siddle is currently a Test specialist! "Players in the 70s and 80s had to endour arduos tours with countless warm up games, plus a heavy domestic schedule" - predominatly playing FC cricket. Limited over cricket was barely played at an International level prior to the 80s. Look what fast bowlers need to do to be considered for limited over fixtures - they need to throw themselves around like a nimble batsmen - bowl one over spells (try keeping loose doing that 4 times over 90min), & basically jog back to the top of their mark - with no OFF SEASON to recuperate!

  • woodgreen on December 23, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson gets pilloried in the last Ashes series in Aus.By the Barmy Army,by the Aussie press et al.What does he do.Retire?Go home citing stress?Or keep working and blast us away next time.Maybe Warner had a point.We are not allowed to say this but there would appear to be a air of weakness in the England team.Im afraid Swanns retirement mid series will always leave a bad taste and is an undignified end to a great career.Sing when youre winning

  • on December 23, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    If he knows he cannot contribute 100% and going by his statements this was always in the back of his mind - perhaps it is the best thing for him not to play?

  • heathrf1974 on December 23, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Maybe England is over-managed and the players can't think for themselves.

  • __PK on December 23, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    Well, he batted without courage in 3 consecutive second innings when England was already beaten in the tests, so why expect him to play when the series is already lost. Typically classy exit.

  • humdrum on December 23, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    By the yardstick of 'having nothing much to offer England' there's a likely list of players falling into that category. The foremost among them is Prior. The bowling of Anderson has been nothing to shout about and the reserves do not have the confidence of the team director,who himself is past his 'sell by' date.So looking forward to a big exodus in the near future. By the way,there should be a compilation( with case studies) of all Eng players who have quit midway through a series,since no other cricket playing nations have that honour.

  • Thegimp on December 23, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    This has been a mental disintegration masterclass by the Aussies. Not only are they three nil up, but their oposition squad is imploding!

    This will be written about and read 100s of years from now!! This great England squad who have been at the top of the test ratings for such a long time, won world cups and dominated all forms of the game for so long have got so far ahead of themselves they have cast off without making sure the bungs in the boat have been put in.

  • redbrand on December 23, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    Funny how 4 months ago he was leading wicket taker in Ashes in UK, no problems then!

  • gop_cricket on December 23, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    Wow, what a good write. Yes at least Swan should have stayed till the end of the series. But let us all respect his decision, since he knows well than anyone where he stand on his game. But the truth will be never known and will not unless Swan wants to share with entire world why he took that decision so hastily. Let us not much poke into him and try to learn this instead let us all give a fair farewell to this tremendous cricketer. After Warne and Murali went into their retirements two top class spinners we can make are Swan and Saied Ajmal who though not achieved the greatness of former players promised a lot in their way up. Wish you good luck Swany and hope you will have good success in what ever you choose your next career.

  • Vnott on December 23, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    Contrary to the view of some of the experts, the indian series ( no matter how different the pitches were) actually tuned Aussies up. Watson played some terrific big knocks, George Bailey played beautifully and most importantly Johnson found his rhythm in the one dayers. He was a handful even on the Indian pitches. It is that confidence and rhythm that he carried to the Ashes. While the experts may think it is inconsequential, i for one think the one dayers in India did work positively to the advantage of Aussies.

    It is bad that Swanny had to retire this way. But with the series lost, if he did retire, there is nothing wrong with it. But the timing is not right not because of anything but the fact that you want to have positive memories of any great player.... but he has the guts to say that its time.... so wish him all the best

  • Thegimp on December 23, 2013, 1:09 GMT

    Will England actually have 12 fit players to take the field on boxing day?

    This tour is priceless as an Aussie fan. Not only did we thoroughly beat them, we get to watch them implode along the way. Churchill would be turning in his grave!!!!

  • on December 23, 2013, 0:40 GMT

    Spot on article.

    Retire. No problem. Do it mid tour when you are about to be dropped?

    Squib

  • neil99 on December 23, 2013, 0:25 GMT

    @ Meety - "Why on earth was Swann playing ODIs this year"

    Because, without ODIs he would have played 10 test matches this year. It's pathetic that players can't muster the energy to play around 10 tests and 10-15 ODIs each year.

    International cricketers are pamered these days. Players in the 70s and 80s had to endour arduos tours with countless warm up games, plus a heavy domestic schedule. Test and ODI sides were the same too. They were away from home much longer, and yes they did say touring was tough, but there wasn't constrant whinging and griping about too much cricket.

  • CricketChat on December 23, 2013, 0:20 GMT

    Agree with Author. Would Swann have retired if the scorecard read 3-0 in Eng's favor? Probably not. Swann basically said that he does not believe he can contribute any more to Eng's future. It is the same Aus team that he had them in wraps in previous tours. How could he predict that he cannot get them in future as well? There are no replacements in the team on tour. Monty didn't look the part the last time he played. Now, Eng will be one bowler short for next 2 matches. While we should respect his decision, I also feel he timed it wrong.

  • on December 22, 2013, 23:55 GMT

    An excellent article and spot on! Swann has indeed been a great cricketer for England and he has been an integral cog in the many joyous moments of the last 5 years (aus 10/11, India 2012, etc). Love his approach to the game but retiring now is letting down his team mates and give us more respect than peddling out the facade that it's selfless. It's selfish! No doubt the 4 over spells in 20/20 will be more to his liking. A great career but a sour ending

  • on December 22, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    There is too much cricket playing and one set of teams is having too many matches. England Australia and India. The ICC does not have a clue to run cricket. The future tour is a diaster and is meant only for certain teams. agree with Swann he has a right to make his decisions. Politicians make decisions and we have to abide with them .

  • SurlyCynic on December 22, 2013, 22:59 GMT

    Bottling out of the tour is pathetic. If he wasn't up to 5 day cricket he shouldn't have gone in the first place, now that it gets tough on a nightmare tour he leaves them in the lurch.

  • dinosaurus on December 22, 2013, 22:58 GMT

    In all this talk alf England's exhaustion, spare a thought for the Australian team. While England were resting from the stress of international cricket, many of the Australian tram were battling India (in India) in a 7 match 50 over competition. Look back into the Cricinfor files and you will find many analyses of how stupid it was of Cricket Australia to go on that tour. And England weren't just rested. They did the almost unheard of thing nowadays, played practice games before the series began. England were beaten by a better team, better coached and better managed, even if they had to bring MJ home early (thereby imperilling their chances of beating Inda and reclaiming their No. ! ranking in ODIs).

  • on December 22, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    Come to think of it this guy has been selected for ICC team of the year ahead of Saeed Ajmal. What a gritty personality. I wonder why cricketers are getting so soft these days?

  • Meety on December 22, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    @5wombats on (December 22, 2013, 17:52 GMT) - perhaps KP was right after all? I do not believe that England play too much cricket, they played less International cricket since 1st Jan 2012 than SL & Oz. The problem was - that TOO MANY of Englands Test cricketers were used across all 3 formats. Why on Earth was Swann playing ODIs this year? I had been saying for a while that Anderson & Swann shouldn't be playing short form cricket, as they are too valuable in Tests. I would also put Cook & Trott into that category. They have rested players for the ODIs v Oz - but the horse has bolted me thinks!

  • thejesusofcool on December 22, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    If Swanny IS fed up with the management style, then he probably isn't alone. The fun went out of our cricket some time ago, even while we were winning. And, would you seriously prefer him to become a drinks waiter to end his Test career, or would you prefer it if another personality gets squashed to do things 'our' way?

  • on December 22, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Perhaps the subtext is one of protest against the impossible Giles Clarke workload. He is retiring as a bowlwr who has already bowles more overs in three Tests than most have had to do in a full series. It is just too much. The management deserves to see the wheels fall off.

  • JMFR on December 22, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    I think it is time for England to rebuild, I think there new test side should be Cook Sam Robson James Taylor KP Root Ben Bairstrow Adil rashid Bresnan Broad Jimmy an mean while look for better young fast bowlers like Tymal Mills Jamie Overton Reece Topley & other reserves Moeen Ali Jos Buttler James Vince Ballance Simon Kerrigan.

  • the_voice_of_reason on December 22, 2013, 21:14 GMT

    Gavin7094: The reason Geoff Boycott was never selected again was because he CHOSE to accept South African money to play on a rebel tour; not the actions of a man filled with loyalty for his team and country.

    Also, I find the suggestion that he was "forced to go home" a little surprising. He refused to field on the last day of the Fourth test, playing golf instead, then left the tour without warning due to "illness", although he had recovered fully when the tickets for the trip south appeared.

  • disco_bob on December 22, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    @Phil Sutcliffe, Swann does not have a 'right' to desert the ship mid series. He certainly has a right not to play the final two matches but he did not have to quit the team in order to achieve this.

  • Chris_P on December 22, 2013, 19:28 GMT

    Wow, David, you're a bit hard on Swanny. Clearly the motivation is gone, he has nothing more to deliver so why carry on with less than full commitment? Would his team-mates want to play with someone not fully committed? Swann has been an outstanding servant to English cricket, he deserves a better send-off than you have given him. Disappointed with your pov.

  • Dr.Vindaloo on December 22, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    Couldn't agree more with this piece. Quitting at this point sends a terrible message to the rest of the squad, and to the cricketing world at large. Chances are his test bowling average would have climbed above 30 if he'd played the last two tests. I wonder, mischievously, whether this may have been a factor.

  • ultimatecricketguru on December 22, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    Swann was the best spinner in the world during his international career(255 wickets in 5 years is truly great)....his decision to quit is purely coz he's exhausted and doesnt want that feeling spreading to the rest of the team...

    Pietersen looks exhausted too.. they are all flamboyant and champion players but too much emphasis on success and professionalism have caused them to get stressed..

    England desperately needs to rethink its team selection.. They need to rotate players..They should include Rankin, Finn , Ballance and Bairstrow in place of Bresnan, Broad(If still injured), swann and prior.. Or else we can see more such breakdowns..

  • on December 22, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    England outplayed,hardly any need for changes.Surely Bresnan should not have played at Perth when big Finn was around? Swann's correct to call time...he gave it his best shot and doesnt have much left in the tank.Let management rebuild the team for future contests.

    In 2009/10 S.A lost to Australia at home after beating them down under.Smith and the team complained of not having the time to let the away tour victory settle in before meeting Australia again.Similarly,10 Ashes tests are too much in a year and it was tough for the players to pick themselves up mentally after a big home Ashes victory in the U.K.Some of the guys are simply jaded and im begining to see similar signs in Dale Steyn who has shouldered too much for too long.

  • 5wombats on December 22, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    There is something desperately DESPERATELY WRONG in the England set up for this to have happened. Tbh - Swanny is basically here putting his two fingers up to the England management. First Trott, now Swann who next? KP? Anderson? Prior? Look at the article where it says "comes with intense micro-management which makes heavy demands of all players in an attempt to maximise success. That cohesion is breaking down". Yeah dead right. That sort of thing is OK for a while, OK when you are winning even, but it is not OK when you are a family man who has better things to do with his time that getting psychoanalysed every month to see if you are "coping". Flower, Gooch et al are responsible for this. The England batsmen are all psyched out before they even get to the crease by Gooch and his approach. SO they don't score runs - which puts the pressure right back on the bowlers. Swanny has had enough of that so he's walking out. GOOD, it might serve to wake a few people up who have been sleeping.

  • on December 22, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    The biggest concern for me with the England team at the moment is that it could go the way of the Fletcher era, sticking with players who are no longer at their peak because they were in the best side. In this context I think it's good that Swann has said that he won't be able to offer England enough to deserve his place. If he'd said nothing to the media and been dropped from the last two Test's it could have been damaging for the management. I suspect that if Kerrigan had done better at the Oval he might have stepped aside at the end of the summer. I hope that the other senior players will take a long look at themselves and decide whether they're motivated enough to play Test cricket. I don't mean this in a bad way, many of these players have achieved pretty much everything they can in the Test side, Ashes home and away, going to number 1, winning in India, it must be very hard to raise their game to the excellent level of 2009-2011 to play for something they've already achieved.

  • shillingsworth on December 22, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    Surely you have to take what Swann has said at face value. If he's struggling with his elbow, he can't have been a likely selection for the last two tests. What is the point of him staying on as a spare part merely to satisfy some people's rather odd view of etiquette?

  • jayg24 on December 22, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    I always saw swann as a fighter, someone who revelled in a challenge. But I do think the decision of his to quit in the middle of a lost series is the wrong decision, purely for the fact that whatever the reason for his decision to quit it just looks wrong to all cricket lovers to quit at this point in time mid series. It just sends out the wrong message at this point in time when England need to regroup and show unity and fighting spirit at least to get a result out of the next two matches. I wonder if England had been winning at this point and he was not getting wickets would he still have retired? I don't think so... it's probably the horrendous losses and the atmosphere in the England camp at the moment that made him make this rash ddecision. NOT the right reasons to quit....

  • danishsyed88 on December 22, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    I agree with the editor. By quitting mid-series, Swann has just shouted out to the world how bad the conditions are in the England camp at the moment. And he has also caused a ripple within the team.

    I feel there must've been talks around the England heads about not to include Swann in the playing 11 for the last 2 matches. Hence the decision.

    Anyways.. a wonderful bowler he is/was. Will be remembered

  • Clyde on December 22, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    Swann normally liked a game of cricket. I don't think there is any reason to think anything other than that he had had enough. Who's to say his replacement won't do better than Swann did in this Ashes? Has Hopps considered that Swann treats cricket as a game and that he retired in this light? What is all the angst about? Swann's believes England have been thrashed. It is rather similar to Clarke's signalling a halt to the walloping. The next two games are for new blood. It is refreshing to get the news from a player rather than an official.

  • USIndianFan on December 22, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    He quit. Simple as that. He should have stayed the series through, offering his teammates support. It is surprising to see this English team collapsing so fast. The transition players should be tried out in the last two tests and others rotated. But quitting is not good. For anyone.

  • on December 22, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    Poor form to leave a sinking ship mid series, could his ego not handle being dropped for the last two games? I'd love to know what Botham and Gower think about England 'playing too much cricket'. When they were playing they only had 1 fewer test and about 5 fewer ODIs per summer. However they played in the county championship, Sunday League, B and H Cup and Natwest trophy when not required by England, and often would have to drive straight from a county game to a Test match, and vice versa. They also had longer overseas tours every winter, yet both had roughly 15 year England careers.

  • Long-Leg on December 22, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    I think he is perfectly entitled to retire from professional cricket whenever he wants to. What Swan seems to be saying is that he has lost the gift he once had and knows he will never get it back. The writing was on the wall when Nathan Lyon out spun him earlier in the series. One can only imagine how distressing that was for a man who used to be a truly great cricketer. I am only sorry that his body did not hold up better for longer. Monty will slot straight into his spot in the team so it is not as if he has left England without cover. How can you criticise a man so harshly for falling on his sword. I see it as an act of selfless sacrifice.

  • MaruthuDelft on December 22, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    But if it is so bad around there.....I think a man who projects an interesting or somehow a charged image should captain England. Cook is so boring so neutral so down to earth...who would want to be playing cricket with him?

  • on December 22, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    Getting other players blooded should be the main purpose of these last two tests. Cooke and Bell should be the only 2 "shoe-ins" for them. The other 9 places up for grabs. Root probably should be persevered with but England need to decide once and for all where he should bat.

    Pietersen will almost definitely retire from tests immediately after the series. He would have done this win or lose I'm sure. He was only talked around in 2012 with the carrot of another ashes win.

    Anderson should be sent home for R&R. He's a class bowler, but on pitches where pace is rewarded above all else his roll as stock bowler tires him out and wastes his talent. He's not a 24 overs a day bowler. 18-20 max.

    Prior? I really like Prior but maybe he should go for now.

    Bresnan bowling 88+ is a viable option.. bowling 82-84 he isn't.

    Panesar is the only spinner worth risking but not a long term solution. Warne's pithy remark after his 35th test still holds true. Cheap.. but true

  • lararichards on December 22, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    The ridiculous amount of international cricket England currently play is down to the scourge of all current professional sport - money and the greed that goes with it. The ECB and Sky are responsible for this. ECB want Sky's money and Sky want their pound of flesh for the millions they pay. Hence we now have 7 test home series plus 5 ODIs and 2 T20s. Test matches played in May in temperatures unsuitable for playing/watching cricket to accommodate it. Back to back test matches played all the time now to cram in more and more cricket. Bowlers can't get a rest and the authorities wonder where all the fast bowlers have gone. It's quality we want NOT quantity.

  • gavin7094 on December 22, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    'Geoff Boycott's test career ended when he walked out part of the way through England's tour of India in 1981-82' Boycott did not 'walk out'. He was forced to go home. Also, he did not retire. He could have ( should have) been selected again. Totally different situation. Swann has had the privilege of being selected to tour Australia, found it tough and quit, letting his team mates and himself down.. His teammates now have to go out and play 2 Tests and try to avoid a 5-0 drubbing without arguably their best bowler.

  • on December 22, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    Doesn't matter if he retired at the right time or not, he was probably the best off spinner of modern era and specially considering the fact that he did not have any doosras. He will be missed

  • Wasim_Wasamadroota on December 22, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    He never mentioned this would be his last series when England were warm favourites to win the series. It's ok Swanny, it has been a bit hot and it is a bit hard to roll your arm over at a slow pace while getting hit back over your head, put your feet up and revel in the Christmas cheer whilst your now ex team mates continue on with trying to restore some pride. To those defending his decision, it is the role of senior players, especially in tough times, to lead the way and set the example for the future, finishing the series with determination and in a fighting spirit is what is needed.

  • on December 22, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    Dear all: Dead right decision by Swann - apart from plainly he has the right. He knows he's gone. No point in getting whacked for two more tests. Just as there's no point in the selectors doing anything other than making every change they can for the last two tests to see how it goes. We know how it goes without change, but also that any improvement by the present team would be useless for the future. The individuals who've surrendered as individuals within a surrendering team need to regroup and I'm sure several of them will. Meanwhile, hosanna to Swann for a top Test career. Nonsense to suggest he's only good in the good times. He's come thru plenty of bad moments and patches en route to now, it's just he knows his body can't meet future demands this time. In terms of standing, since we all do these things - don't we?! - he's in my lifetime England team (I'm 66) just ousting Laker and boosting a ropey tail that goes Swann, Trueman, Snow, Underwood. Subtlety, attack, wit - a marvel!

  • Diaz54 on December 22, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Dorothydix....everybody is playing lots of cricket. These guys are professional.,did you see pre ashes interviews? Swanwn,,Anderson, Trott etc where very confident....no hint of these problems. They talk too much, they have not been able to to stomach it, too soft because they earn too much money. I am afraid they have let the nation down. I know how bias the supporters are. If Petersens did the same he would have got immense critisism.,there is so much bias in the team and supporters. All this macho no ha made of paper....Aussies must be on top of the world, for dismantling everything..next thing keeper will go and then the management. Panesar would be asked to a difficult job, and no doubt he will be kicked out like Carberry when they return home.

  • Nutcutlet on December 22, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    I'm not sure that the boxing analogy is useful, DH. Swann was a Test cricketer, team player, with a responsibility to the team and an equal responsibility to himself. Unless injured, unable to be considered for selection, a player's presence indicates to his capt. & manager, I'm available if required. The beaten boxer, in the bad old days at least, would come out for those final gruelling rounds, continue to ship punishment, risking yet greater/ more severe injuries: noble, perhaps, but I would take the longer view and call it senseless. Ultimately, his corner is responsible for preventing him carrying on by throwing in the towel. Now consider Swann's position if he'd seen it through. He would have to have told AF & AC, I'm not up to it. Can't find enough in the tank for 5 days. Leave me out of yr thinking, pls. I'm going after this tour anyway. It would have hit the media quick time. Swann swans on the balcony. Rumours. A long silent end. Too many questions. Not the best way to go.

  • AshesErnie on December 22, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    Well done Swanny! Brave enough to poke two fingers at his greedy employers who make these young blokes play so much that it does their heads and/or bodies in. Notice periods are daft in most jobs, absurd in international sport (compare Ponting retirement circus producing no runs and a grotesque hijacking of two matches). If you have had enough, you won't be an asset to your team so best clear out.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    What a load of rubbish! Swann has done the best thing he can for England by calling it quits sooner rather than later. England would gain nothing from him continuing until the end of the tour if he knew he was going to retire after it. With the series lost it is the perfect opportunity to try other players and see how they go at Test level. These people who say he should have kept playing sound like they would be captains that keep a bowler on for one or two overs too many rather than being proactive and staying ahead of the game.

  • Diaz54 on December 22, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    I fully concur....this is a very bad move. I know ashes lost, but dignity and procures next series is also important.. This can leave very bad scars I am afraid. No other teams have imploded like this. Giving up or appearing to give up when things get tough is not the done thing. These guys get paid lot of. Only perhaps more than any other playing nation other than the Indians ,Moho were equally shambolic when they toured England. I rather Swann being dropped then him pulling out mid series.,I wonder what the players and captain thinks. Very very and move, shows the management are not in control. Just imagine if you want to compare how Pak players have had to put up for the last 10 years, yet they have not given up. Swann was a great player and deserves better closure than what he has chosen.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    It definitely does not sound right. Seniors like Swann must be around to see through the entire tour. It's almost as if they expected Oz to just buckle under in the series and now they just can't handle this firm of events.

  • drdickdixon on December 22, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Justin Cotton "Hopefully the (sic) mediochre Cook will be next as he is also not up to international standard." - I do like a good knee-jerk and this is pretty special, although I suspect this isn't an Englishman writing this.

  • eggyroe on December 22, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    As an Englishman having sat through the Ashes,and let's be honest not a very good experience, I find it unusual to say the least that Graeme Swann has decided to call it quits in the middle of an unwinnable Ashes Series.We all like to win but it is not possible all the time and better side wins,but in my opinion both sides should carry on to the bitter end.As I saw in an article by Tim Bresnan,he stated that there is no such thing as a Dead Rubber Ashes Test Match,both sides are striving for victory. Perhaps now Andy Flower can look into the eyes of the remaining players and ask them if they wish to carry on, if the answer is no I'm sure that they could get a flight and be home for Christmas.Would the England players of the Eighties decided when getting thrashed by the West Indies Teams that enough is enough and quit midway through a series,I think not. All sport goes in cycles and you enjoy when you're winning,and you work harder when you lose so you don't have that losing experience.

  • the_voice_of_reason on December 22, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    "I cannot believe players such as Steve Waugh, Geoff Boycott, or even Douglas Jardine would abandon their team mates mid tour. Perhaps England need to examine these issues are happening."

    Geoff Boycott's Test career ended when he walked out part of the way through England's tour of India in 1981-82

  • luggang on December 22, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    I get the feeling there's not a lot of fun playing for England these days, with a huge back-up staff, this meticulous preparations favoured by Andy flower, it's all a bit too serious. players need to enjoy themselves, have a few beers when they want and ease up on the practicing.

  • Wasim_Wasamadroota on December 22, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    They say you judge a man's character not in the good times but when things aren't going his way.....says a lot about Swann.

  • cloudmess on December 22, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    For the sake of the team, he should have stayed. England should not be giving up on the series, and if they were somehow able to win the last 2 games, the overall scoreline would still be in their favour for 2013. But in some ways, can you blame him? Another month of being - what was that expression he used? - by a highly motivated and aggressive Australian team underneath a hot sun, or a chance to spend Christmas with his young family and start preparing for a cushy media career.

  • Narkovian on December 22, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    When will the cricket authorities , not just ECB but all countries, finally realize that there is TOO MUCH INTERNATIONAL cricket? So many pointless series. So many tours. Ridiculous. The whole thing is becoming de-valued. No wonder the players can't stand it any more. Nor can the fans ! Still don't think Swann should have packed in right now. Just bad manners to leave the rest of the party in the mess they are in.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    Broad, Swann and Trott were three of the eight "gun" players before the series started. Gone. Anderson should really be rested, he could have 3 or 4 years ahead of him, but not if he's told to do the donkey work match after match. I just hope Bairstow is not picked. He doesn't seem good enough as either batsman or keeper. Get Buttler in.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    Why is it that England are complaining of playing too much cricket? Do not other teams have to play against them? Obviously if you are top of the tree you are in more demand but these guys have understood that as highly paid professionals they would have a busy schedule- and they have high standard travel arrangements. I can't believe the demands on these players can compare to someone like Tendulkar.

    I cannot believe players such as Steve Waugh, Geoff Boycott, or even Douglas Jardine would abandon their team mates mid tour. Perhaps England need to examine these issues are happening.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    I was hoping that Kevin Pietersen would retire, and still think it's likely that he chooses to in the very near future. I have a feeling he will play a maximum of two more test matches in his career.4 years ago that would have been a loss, but now with his bursts of brilliance so rare and his nonchalant and indolent attitude on the field and with the bat so apparent so often it will be a blessing to see him go.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Completely disagree with this article. Swann has done what the tour selectors didn't have the balls to do. In fact, Panasar should have already have been chosen instead of him in Perth. The series is lost and rebuilding needs to start right now.

  • jackdaw on December 22, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    I have to agree with David's comments here. Graemen Swann has done very well for and out of England personally. He can justify via self deprecation and trigger his personal right to choose when to retire all he likes, but by doing so now he leaves behind a seriously listing ship. Great spinner and competitor, obviously a fun teammate to have around however when the wheels fall off as they have in this Ashes series so far, him leaving now is a blow. If he felt he couldn't perfrom then tough it out and stay and support the ones in the XI in whatever way. It's not like England are overly endowed with quality spinners at the moment. If I was Alistair I'd have been asking him to take one for the team, stick about and help until the bitter. And adopt a hugley positive attitude for the younger ones for them to follow on.

  • VivGilchrist on December 22, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Looks like this English team are a bunch of downhill skiers. Look great when things are going well, but an uphill challenge and they go backwards.

  • 801mlh on December 22, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    Had England won the 1st test would Trott have left. I doubt it. Were the score 3-0 to England as many had thought it would be, would Swann retire. I doubt it. Its amazing these feelings weren't there when they were pounding Australia. First fight back and now 2 so far has had enough. None of the Aussies left when they were being beaten. Who will be next? My money is on Peterson, could still get some big bucks in the Big Bash, he's already in Australia, what the heck?

  • amitgarg78 on December 22, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    It is indeed looking dysfunctional team where people are immensely stressed, even shocked may be, at the way the ship has gone down. People have gone home, most of those that played, haven't contributed and now we have a senior player retiring mid series.

    If Andy flower didn't see this coming, then he needs to go as well and England need to get a new guy to put a new squad together.

    Out of curiosity, What would the reactions be if it was KP and not swann, to go mid-series as he's just done? He was much hated for saying that the schedule is not sustainable (ok, there were a few other things too) and trying to look after himself by picking and choosing games. It may be the only answer to the modern day non stop cricket while retaining fresh legs and spirits.

  • Mitty2 on December 22, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    The amount of people calling him selfish for it is ridiculous... It's a difficult thing to judge but yes I have to agree with you, retiring as a leader/senior player of the team before the series (particularly a very difficult series) has finished is wrong. Sure he can use the excuse that he's doing it so another youngster can develop in his place... But the only other spinner on tour is Panesar and we all saw how Kerrigan went..

    I think the other modern English player to retire in the middle of a series is Hussain and one whose name escapes my mind (Gough?), but in this situation where the team's unity is being tested, and where another senior player has already left, I can't help but feel i's the wrong decision.

    However, if indeed he can't feel he can't give anymore, and if indeed the reports of him being dropped are true, we can't criticise him. We expect too much of professional sportsman, and for all the joy Swann has given cricket fans with his brilliance, he should be praised

  • on December 22, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    I personally think everyone has the right to say enough when and where they feel they should its not down to coaches managers or captains to dictate Swann has made a brave decision and a few more should be big enough to realise the end is here. its only arrogance and self importance that won't allow them to do this

  • on December 22, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    What a rabble. I thought theses blokes were supposed to be professionals. If Swann wasn't up to it he should have stayed home. Hopefully the mediochre Cook will be next as he is also not up to international standard.

  • dorothydix on December 22, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    Too much cricket driven by commercial gain is having its consequences. Ultimately cricket and players will continue to suffer leading to a watering down of quality.Cricket is losing itself in many ways.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • dorothydix on December 22, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    Too much cricket driven by commercial gain is having its consequences. Ultimately cricket and players will continue to suffer leading to a watering down of quality.Cricket is losing itself in many ways.

  • on December 22, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    What a rabble. I thought theses blokes were supposed to be professionals. If Swann wasn't up to it he should have stayed home. Hopefully the mediochre Cook will be next as he is also not up to international standard.

  • on December 22, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    I personally think everyone has the right to say enough when and where they feel they should its not down to coaches managers or captains to dictate Swann has made a brave decision and a few more should be big enough to realise the end is here. its only arrogance and self importance that won't allow them to do this

  • Mitty2 on December 22, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    The amount of people calling him selfish for it is ridiculous... It's a difficult thing to judge but yes I have to agree with you, retiring as a leader/senior player of the team before the series (particularly a very difficult series) has finished is wrong. Sure he can use the excuse that he's doing it so another youngster can develop in his place... But the only other spinner on tour is Panesar and we all saw how Kerrigan went..

    I think the other modern English player to retire in the middle of a series is Hussain and one whose name escapes my mind (Gough?), but in this situation where the team's unity is being tested, and where another senior player has already left, I can't help but feel i's the wrong decision.

    However, if indeed he can't feel he can't give anymore, and if indeed the reports of him being dropped are true, we can't criticise him. We expect too much of professional sportsman, and for all the joy Swann has given cricket fans with his brilliance, he should be praised

  • amitgarg78 on December 22, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    It is indeed looking dysfunctional team where people are immensely stressed, even shocked may be, at the way the ship has gone down. People have gone home, most of those that played, haven't contributed and now we have a senior player retiring mid series.

    If Andy flower didn't see this coming, then he needs to go as well and England need to get a new guy to put a new squad together.

    Out of curiosity, What would the reactions be if it was KP and not swann, to go mid-series as he's just done? He was much hated for saying that the schedule is not sustainable (ok, there were a few other things too) and trying to look after himself by picking and choosing games. It may be the only answer to the modern day non stop cricket while retaining fresh legs and spirits.

  • 801mlh on December 22, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    Had England won the 1st test would Trott have left. I doubt it. Were the score 3-0 to England as many had thought it would be, would Swann retire. I doubt it. Its amazing these feelings weren't there when they were pounding Australia. First fight back and now 2 so far has had enough. None of the Aussies left when they were being beaten. Who will be next? My money is on Peterson, could still get some big bucks in the Big Bash, he's already in Australia, what the heck?

  • VivGilchrist on December 22, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Looks like this English team are a bunch of downhill skiers. Look great when things are going well, but an uphill challenge and they go backwards.

  • jackdaw on December 22, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    I have to agree with David's comments here. Graemen Swann has done very well for and out of England personally. He can justify via self deprecation and trigger his personal right to choose when to retire all he likes, but by doing so now he leaves behind a seriously listing ship. Great spinner and competitor, obviously a fun teammate to have around however when the wheels fall off as they have in this Ashes series so far, him leaving now is a blow. If he felt he couldn't perfrom then tough it out and stay and support the ones in the XI in whatever way. It's not like England are overly endowed with quality spinners at the moment. If I was Alistair I'd have been asking him to take one for the team, stick about and help until the bitter. And adopt a hugley positive attitude for the younger ones for them to follow on.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Completely disagree with this article. Swann has done what the tour selectors didn't have the balls to do. In fact, Panasar should have already have been chosen instead of him in Perth. The series is lost and rebuilding needs to start right now.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    I was hoping that Kevin Pietersen would retire, and still think it's likely that he chooses to in the very near future. I have a feeling he will play a maximum of two more test matches in his career.4 years ago that would have been a loss, but now with his bursts of brilliance so rare and his nonchalant and indolent attitude on the field and with the bat so apparent so often it will be a blessing to see him go.