Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

No hunger for Swann and England

They have lost the desperation to win and Australia were quick to sniff it out

Mark Nicholas

December 23, 2013

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Swann answers a few questions after landing in Australia, Perth, October 24, 2013
Graeme Swann brightened the canvas of English cricket with his game and personality © AFP

It is hard to be sure what brings down a sporting team. Age, fatigue and complacency are all enemies, but most likely, it is the enemy itself.

Witness Bayern Munich's remarkable humbling of FC Barcelona. It appeared, reasonably enough, that the present collection of Barcelona players could never be beaten, primarily because their opponents could not get the ball. And on the odd occasion they did, Barcelona soon won it back and gave it to Lionel Messi. Job done. Bayern Munich bristled at this Catalan success story and resolved to do something about it, finding a speed and method that left Barca's ageing legs for dead.

Though it is tempting to say that Manchester United's iffy first half of the season is down to the new manager, it is worth a look at the players the previous manager left him: some old, some borrowed and some not worthy of the famous red shirt. There is a pleasure in United's demise, simply because Sir Alex Ferguson had a way of getting up everyone's nose. And there is a pleasure in seeing how Manchester City, for example, have gone about usurping them this season.

A not uncommon view is that England's cricketers had it coming. We know which of the team's more colourful characters encouraged that view - and a cocksure style is the sum of it. But the very certainty of cocksure was one of the reasons for their success. This is no different from the Australian side that walked the walk for so long. Shane Warne could intimidate with a look; Matthew Hayden with a word; Ricky Ponting with a narrow eye; Glenn McGrath with a sneer, and when the lot of them were on top - as one, like a pack of hyenas - they became excruciating to play against. Call this bullying and you wouldn't be far wrong. And that is what the best teams do: they bully the game out of anyone who shows the slightest sign of weakness against them.

When Warne retired he said he had "run out of arse", which, translated, means the luck had deserted him. The best players make their own luck, as much through the power of their personality as anything else, and Warne was the luck-maker-in-chief.

You can wager Graeme Swann reckons he had run out of luck. By this we mean the 50/50 decisions that went his way, the fingertip catches, the long hops hit down midwicket's throat and daft moments, such as Chris Rogers' swipe-and-miss at Lord's last summer in England, that result in embarrassment for the opponent. Swann knows that while he was running out of luck, he was running out of desire. This is not to say that he no longer cared about winning. Far from it, that inherent trait will be with him on golf courses and ping-pong tables for the rest of his life. No, he had run out of desperation. Though a cricket match still mattered, it was not to the degree where he could sacrifice all else for its purpose.

The sudden, and strangely sad, announcement yesterday by Swann crystallises the problem that has confronted Alastair Cook since Brisbane. The England team has lost its desire. He did not know this before the first Test but he quickly found out and then alluded to it at the post-mortems. Bravely, and without option, he suggested "the will" - as he called it in response to a question - could still be found, but deep down he must have known the game was up. Jonathan Trott's depression, Matt Prior's extraordinary downturn, Kevin Pietersen's indifference, James Anderson's lethargy, all these, and now Swann's bizarrely timed retirement are as one in the fall of the empire Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower built and Cook inherited. The desperate need to win cricket matches: the need that sees you burn through the hardcore challenges and the endlessly stressful public examinations of self and team; the need that takes you into dark places in order to emerge having seen the light. It is that need that appears to have deserted many of Cook's most trusted fellows.

Jonathan Trott's depression, Matt Prior's extraordinary downturn, Kevin Pietersen's indifference, James Anderson's lethargy, all these, and now Swann's bizarrely timed retirement are as one in the fall of the empire Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower built and Cook inherited

The last exceptional performance from this team came in India just over a year ago. Thrashed in Ahmedabad and 1-0 down, England came back to win the four-match series against all the odds. Now, that is desire. Since then, England have played in patches, often very good, sometimes very bad. The odd magnificent innings, usually safe catching and some memorable spells of bowling - think Stuart Broad in Chester-le-Street - have saved many a day. Retaining the Ashes was good but it wasn't euphoric, because Australia were an improving shambles.

The Australians themselves realised this and, to their credit, have done a bit of a Bayern Munich on the England players in Australia: sneaking up on them with canny selection, aggressive intent and smart, high-octane play. Some of the more senior Australian players said immediately after Brisbane that this was the least committed England group they had been confronted by. They smelt the lack of hunger and knew that just a few days in Adelaide would offer the chance to wipe out any remaining threat. As the carcass began to rot in Perth's hot sun, the vultures swooped.

Swann said that it would be selfish of him to continue in the side for the sake of another Melbourne or Sydney Test. Maybe, maybe not. It will be no sinecure for whoever replaces him. All those clich├ęs about leaving a sinking ship will follow him around for a while yet. Perhaps he should have seen it through. Unless the selectors had another idea, anyway.

It is a pity that an exceptional cricketer and most enjoyable man should leave in such a hurry. There is something almost suspicious in the air, as there might be when a team is down at heel. It would have been nice to have given him a curtain call for he has brought nothing but good to the game and pleasure to those who have watched him. He came to international cricket late, at 29, and soon grasped its tricky nuances. In the age of the doosra, he kept fingerspinning simple and quite old-fashioned by giving it a rip and keeping going.

He benefitted hugely from the DRS and became a voracious feeder from the way it changed the perception of umpires and batsmen. He relished the pitches that spun and the opportunity to close the deal for his country. Not all spinners have such courage or self-belief. He has been the first-choice interviewee for broadcasters and press and is the master of the sound bite. In next to no time he will be talking about the cricketers he just left behind.

Perhaps it will niggle that he left under a cloud for English cricket, the canvas of which he has brightened. He says he simply could not resist a tilt at four Ashes wins on the bounce. We can resist everything but temptation. Clearly, Graeme Swann had not bargained on another bounce - the one made by the enemy, who had had enough of England's cricketers licking their lips at the sight of a baggy-green cap.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by RohanMarkJay on (December 26, 2013, 10:54 GMT)

Fine cricketer for England Cricket Team. One of the main reasons for the very successful. Early 2009 to Early 2012 for English cricket. I doubt Eng will be able to find someone of his ability for some time. He was a unique attacking off spinner who invented new deliveries for cricket on his own such as the 'flying saucer' ball etc. He was a very different off spinner to the normally tidy but defensive minded off spinners England's had through the decades. He will be missed.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 25, 2013, 22:45 GMT)

@please_concentrate, appreciate you rising above hurling insults at people, if only Swann could've done the same then I too would be remembering him foremost for his entertaining cricket and huge contribution to Eng's success over recent years, he's certainly been central to it, no argument there. If you can't appreciate this viewpoint then take it up with Michael Vaughan, I'm hardly out on my own here... Anyway Merry Xmas and good luck in Melb, disappointed I won't see Swann out there, expect he'll be disappointed in how he'll be spoken of throughout remaining tests as it won't be much for his cricket!

Posted by   on (December 24, 2013, 22:09 GMT)

Easy way to get the willpower back, get new blood in there. Sack anyone who's not performing at the best of their ability and get new fresh hungry players in their place.

Bairstow for Prior for starters. Hard to drop KP though let's be honest.

Posted by please_concentrate on (December 24, 2013, 12:11 GMT)

@pat_one_back. OK I'll rise to this one. Perhaps you need to read more thoroughly. I simply stated that Martyn, like Swann, retired mid-Ashes - I made no comparison of the way they announced their retirement. The point I was making was that Swann, like Martyn, should be shown the respect deserved for their on-field achievements, as posted by cricket fans of ALL nationalities.

Posted by Biso on (December 24, 2013, 11:29 GMT)

@Latecut_04: You have put it quite bluntly what I have tried to say in a beating about the bush manner. England are simply overwhelmed and I can only hope for some individual brilliance from KP or Bell that can be construed as an iota of resistance against an impending 5-0. Swan has already reconciled with the fact that he has been out-bowled by Lyons and recognizes that he does not have any more drive to improve upon his skills at his age. He has been a very good bowler but certainly can not be listed among the all-time great English Spinners. However, I do respect his decision to retire at this stage as he is brave enough to accept that Panesar might be a better or younger option for the team. Right now England do not have anyone better than Panesar and it will not do the morale of any younger rookie any good while there are shoulders drooping in the dressing room. With or without Panesar, England are in line for a white wash.

Posted by latecut_04 on (December 24, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

Well I am not sold out about this "lack of hunger/will" thing.that is the most absurd reason anyone can give for English failures this season.They have been completely 'bowled over' literally.Also all this talk about English players feeling 'they have achieved everything' is another farce.They more than anyone else would know 0-3 scoreline was hardly justifiable in England.They more than anyone else would have known the side they beat 3-1 in 2010-11 was arguably the weakest ever Aussie Ashes side.(especially since majority of these players were around during 2006-7 whitewash.)They more than anyone else would have been aware of the glory due if they had beaten Australia 4 times in a row.They more than anyone else wanted to win the series.Its just that their batting has come a cropper,they have come up aginst piercing fast bowling and their bowlers have not been able to make up for their batsmens' errors.Please don't say Alistair Cook doesn't have any will...its simply unfair..

Posted by Biso on (December 24, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

England did well when India had an already aging side and Australia were in transition. In fact Australia are still in the process of transition while India's transition is nearing the end and they are fast becoming a settled side. England is now getting exposed as India and Australia are back on the ascent.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 24, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

So many people seem to think that Swann has made the wrong call, asking him to think again, and so on. Here's another thought to add to your first one. How many of you have got direct & unimpeded access to Graeme Swann's mind, specifically his decision-making process? If you are not GS you are in no position to understand all the factors that have led him at this precise time to make this life-changing decision - his life-changing decision - not anyone else's. As a great team player (no one can level the accusation against GS that he doesn't think of the team; it's not in his DNA), he must make his own calls and as empathetic fellow men & women, it's our obligation to respect it, without reservation. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Posted by Buggsy on (December 24, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

Apart from this Ashes win, the best thing to happen to Australian cricket since McGrath is Mark Nicholas. Love his commentary, love his writing.

Posted by Primetime21 on (December 24, 2013, 7:11 GMT)

No criticism from me on this one. Until anyone has walked a day in someone else's shoes, who are we to be critical of Swann ? It does raise the question though- when did the desire go & should Swann or for that matter Jonathon Trott have been here in the first place ? People will say that cricketers these days earn a very lucrative living from the game, surely that compensates the demands & expectations of long tours halfway around the world ?It's not the whole story though ! Test match tours have become far too compressed & it is throwing things much more in favour of the home nations. When do players truly have the time to stop & rest & enjoy the surroundings of foreign shores now? When do we allow the players a proper warm up & acclimatization to the away conditions ? It just seems as though if the touring players aren't at an airport, they're either at the hotel or the ground ! It will be the baggage carousels; not the game, that will bring us more Graeme Swann scenarios.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 24, 2013, 3:51 GMT)

@ Phil Sutcliffe : I take your point about the fear of winning thing but in this case I have to disagree completely. I think it's the exact opposite actually. Fear of losing has done them in. How else can you explain excruciatingly slow over rates and even slower run rates? They don't want to bowl one more ball than they absolutely have to and will only attack the rank bad ball of which there have been disconcertingly few. These guys are scared ship-less of making a mistake and as a result are going through the motions well within their individual comfort zones. No-one, apart from Stokes and perhaps Broad has seemed willing to try anything new. Where's the indivuality? Where's the flair? .. Probably neatly filed in a box with this written on it. "Property of A. Flower. Do not open, especially in an emergency".

Death by inertia and fear is what it is. It's a horrible thing to watch, even as an Aussie.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2013, 2:58 GMT)

Mark Nicholas can sure write an article. Great work as always. The 3 nil scoreline reflects Australia's improvement, and England's lack of will in equal measure. Hopefully the continuing negative fallout from the tour will motivate England into some mongrel, and we will have a cracking last two test matches, as an Aussie supporter, I would love to see two tight, down to the wire games. With a bit better sportsmanship as well, from both teams.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2013, 2:57 GMT)

I somehow feel something is not right in the english dressing room. First trott now Swann. I need u guys to look at james anderson. His body languange tells me he isnt hapy. He just run in, bowl, turn back and walk to his mark with his head down.. in the field he loks very isolated.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 24, 2013, 1:12 GMT)

It's no real disgrace to lose a game of cricket between two major sides-though of course one wants to win. What really hurts is HOW we have lost. There has been no fight, no struggle, just supine capitulation. The manner of our defeat is what has been the disgrace. Lack of character, commitment and pride have damaged us no end. One or two players have stood up and made a difference but overall this series has been so unworthy of. What we require is pride,fight and spirit. We need to win the last two games to stay on the map. I do not want to see any more capitulation to not really the greatest attack ever assembled. Any more soggy lettuce cricket and we may as well paly associate cricket.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 23:35 GMT)

I remember his famous 50/50 lbw out against Philip Jacques last summer.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 23, 2013, 21:51 GMT)

@please_concentrate, I'd suggest you read more broadly in all respects, Marto left his team QUIETLY and from a position of dominance, not to outrun selectors at the losing end of his toughest tour in years. And if selection is not the reason then Swann simply should not have left home were he not up to it, I bet he'd be in Melb if Eng were 3-0 up. Regardless of why, NO NEED to go to the press and have an indulgent dump from afar on struggling team mates. Were I commenting out of bitterness toward Eng as you allege then I'd be siding with Swann's 'Eng players have their heads so far up their @rses' spray not rubbishing him for it. Clearly I have more respect for the Eng team than Swann and his fans who place a personal grievance ahead of the interests of the entire touring team.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 21:37 GMT)

May be He want to play for IPL, Less stress and easy money. I would certainly look in to it.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 23, 2013, 20:53 GMT)

Now we see the folly of the 82 page dietary requirement containing everything from poached mongolian quail entrails to yam sorbet... England have lost their hunger. Should have just served them up Jacob's cream crackers and salted porridge.

Posted by Adoh on (December 23, 2013, 20:10 GMT)

As an aussie, I like to poke fun at the British (England doesn't quite cover it) cricket team. However, give credit where it is due. Swannie, how we loved him. A great talent, excellent personality, and fierce competitor. When he came out with the sprinkler dance upon winning the ashes in Australia, I found myself caught in two minds - it was quite funny, but I musn't laugh as he's the enemy. Anyway, I'm sure thats not the last we see of Swannie. Best of luck to Swannie into the future, and best of luck to the British cricket team - they're gonna need it.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 18:04 GMT)

It's not selfish at all to retire now: The Ashes are lost, Swann was going to retire anyway. What's the point of hanging around for a valedictory test match when the task of finding a 1st choice spinner for England is now? Swann knows that this is not the time for sentimentality, it's the time to move on and give someone else a chance, hopefully someone with the same desire and ambition that he once had. These last two matches are just the opportunity to introduce different players and give some of the regulars a rest. So kudos to Graeme Swann.

Posted by tickcric on (December 23, 2013, 16:18 GMT)

A good read. England to me are overdoing test cricket. Clarke and Cook both regular for their respective teams but Cook reaches the 100 figure in two few years. Swann barely 5 years into test cricket has played 60 odd tests .Has any country in the history of the game played test cricket with this degree of frequency? I doubt. Not to mention the fact that they haven't stopped playing the other formats.

A tour is suppossed to be like an expedition of sorts. You plan and prepare for it, go and play, and then return to settle down for a brief while and continue the process. By playing 13, 14 tests every year & 4 series you hasten your expiry date. And that's what happening to England. Prior, Anderson, Swann, KP none of them have reached 35 but they appear as if they have crossed the mark 2 years back! England needs to sort out many things now like, selection, management issues but they will do well do have a more sustainable fixture. 10 tests a year is a good number for any nation imo.

Posted by dabbadubba on (December 23, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

just another english cricketer suffering from "stress" related issues.. only this guy put it out nicely unlike trotty

Posted by PutMarshyOn on (December 23, 2013, 15:03 GMT)

In his own way Swann was the most refreshing bowler of the last 5 years. No muttering about elbow extension angles with him - "just" highly skillful finger spin against all-comers in all conditions. Good on yer Sir! Here's hoping Monty feels the same way after Melbourne.

Posted by lodd on (December 23, 2013, 14:04 GMT)

Mark, Wonderful read. Bumble

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

@rizwan, please recheck your sources. Ganguly didnot overstay in the team. Infact he has one of the best records as a batsman in his last year, ie an avg close to 60 in his last year and an avg of 47 in his last 10 tests unlike most greats. infact laxman was the one who had an extremely bad last year in tests before he hung his boots. ganguly truly deserved the sendoff he received, ifact he deserved even better! coming back to swann there is nothing to boast about regarding retirement time swann selected. its mid-series and courtesy to his retirement, without good enough spinning options england may just lose in melbourne and sydney and get whitewashed. unless there was a personal emergency i believe it was an extremely selfish decision!

Posted by Robert1612 on (December 23, 2013, 13:42 GMT)

As an avid Aussie supporter have to acknowledge a wonderful career by Swann. Having lost Trott and now Swann would have to surmise that there is something very wrong with the English dressing-room. If Broad is unfit for Melbourne, this leaves a massive hole in not just their bowling, but their lower middle order as well... and it hasn't been going too well either! Nicko seems to have summed it up well, the Aussies sense England are not up for it this tour and the vultures are hovering indeed! Not sure what side England will put on the field come Boxing Day but don't think it will hold much fear for the Aussies> can sense a five nil whitewash and then on to the Saffers next year; that may well be the real test of how Australia are going. Given Johnson's stellar performance on the last S. Africa tour, is it too much to hope for a repeat performance? Anyway, for the meantime nice to see the "urn" back where it belongs!!

Posted by GloryDaysReturn on (December 23, 2013, 13:28 GMT)

There's a good reason the English were so exuberant in their celebrations after gaining world number one status (shirts printed with England #1) and winning the Ashes: they new it wouldn't last!

Can anyone see England attaining number one again for the next 10 years? I don't think so.

Posted by please_concentrate on (December 23, 2013, 12:53 GMT)

@pat_one_back - you really are a bitter little man aren't you. i dont think I've ever read a comment of yours that doesn't include a sneering little putdown of English cricket - those 3 consecutive Ashes defeats must really have hurt! In contrast it's good to see all the knowledgable cricket fans of all nationalities giving Swann the credit he deserves, and the understanding over the timing of his retirement - as they did for Damien Martyn, an Australian cricketer who also retired mid-Ashes.

Posted by rizwan1981 on (December 23, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Swann may not be the best spinner in the world , but he certainly has a BRILLIANT sense of humour - He is also typically English in his modesty - recall Swann acknowledging that Murali was the greatest spinner in the world.

Srikumar Narayan , you are right - many indian cricketers such as SACHIN TENDULKAR , Kapil Dev , Ganguly stayed on for many years for personal records and financial gains- Dravid , Gavaskar and VVS Laxman were the exceptions who retired without the gaudy farewell that was seen recently when Tendlkar quit

Posted by natarsx on (December 23, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

Players need to take both winning and losing in the same way. You attach yourselves to either of these two, you are doomed.

These handful are previleged to represent their respective country. They should enjoy playing the game rather than enjoy winning / getting lost in space if they lose.

Retiring mid series is madness. Had he not comitted for Ashes knowing well that he might not get enough assistance from the pitches in Brisbane, Perth and Adilite. England need him most in Sydney probably so that they can avoid white wash. Losing Ashes is considered as humiliation for the English team and if they get white washed it would rub salt to the wounds.

Swann - Think again - have you done the right thing?

Posted by getgopi on (December 23, 2013, 12:16 GMT)

Looks like its time for another team bonding trip into the mountains. Seriously though, I am quite sure they will get over this phase. It happens to all teams. Swann should have gritted it through the final test before putting his papers in.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

There was a small passage of play that highlighted the mindset of the two teams and also from which the fortunes of Aus and Eng diverged REMARKABLY.Up until that point honours were even with England having bowled Australia out for 295 on a great batting strip and going along fairly nicely at 1/55 just before Lunch.Although Cook had fallen to a perfectly pitched ball angling across him from Ryan Harris;there was no great alarms for the batsmen with little lateral movement on a good pitch.This is when the desperate hustle of Clarke and his men came to the fore.Just after what should of been the last over before lunch,11 hungry cricketers scrambled into postion and conned the umpire into allowing just one more over!Their strong conviction that Trott had a disliking for Johnson's bumpers was the motivation and Indeed it was Mitch who repaid their faith and took the prize scalp of Jonathon Trott with an awkward, TIMID hipfend from a fiery bumper. JOHNSON WAS IN THE GAME!! The rest.........

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 23, 2013, 11:17 GMT)

There's nothing brave about pulling the pin mid tour, it's selfish and destabilising, outright disrespectful. By immediately coming out and dumping on his team mates he's only proven himself as egotistical as those he seeks to criticise, I mean to what ends were his comments made? This pathetic tantrum shows off a bitter man lurks behind that playful charm, good riddance to the man child, hardly be missed around these parts where he's a far lesser bowler than his 10yr junior Nathan Lyon.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

Dear all: The unbearable heaviness of winning doesn't get considered enough. Most sportsmen spend the majority of their time losing (or drawing). They're used to it. It's kind of comfy. Winning is much harder to deal with for each individual, whether in a team sport or solo sport. It creates the responsibility of next time and that's hard to shoulder. It's THE great achievement to pull it off repeatedly - as this England team did to make world number 1 (a responsibility they couldn't bear and dumped as soon as possible via underperformance) and to repeat series wins in the narrower, emotionally potent sphere of the Ashes, (until they couldn't bear that responsibility any longer either and just quit on this series, either in a turmoil of personal uproar - Trott and Swann - or by lowering their personal performance bar). Did their performance look complacent to you? Just looked full of fear to me. Fear of winning-responsibility. New team time! Cook, Broad, Bell and 8 places to play for??

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (December 23, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

Of course, Swann has the right to leave when his mind and body tells him it is time and if the retention of the Ashes were driving him the timing of his retirement becomes even more understandable.

A combination of talent, skill, hard work and attitude (or "hunger", "desperation", "commitment" etc) are what take champion individuals and teams to the top and keep them there, with attitude being the driver.

If the required attitude is gone and gone forever, it is best to walk away. Going through the motions will not cut it in Test cricket.

Posted by humdrum on (December 23, 2013, 9:21 GMT)

@dunger.bob:You forgot the pissing part of it,mate.And to listen to the English media,you would be forgiven for thinking that this Eng team was god's gift to mankind and how lucky we poor folks were to watch them in action.Self delusion is the surest path to destruction and it has come to pass.If the Aussies celebrate (as at Perth) they certainly did not infuriate anyone like the English did back in Blighty.Some good records for Swann and co. made him decide that he had enough of being drubbed. I assure you right now,the only thing on his mind will be to get back for Christmas and then try to join up for IPL and make some easy money.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

For the first time in my life, as a fellow Yorkie, I find myself in agreement with Geoff Boycott, who thinks that this is a brave decision. May well have found himself 'in the outer' tap on the shoulder perhaps? Anyway good on you Swannie, no doubt we'll see you back as a commentator, you have the wit and the nouce in spades.

Posted by milepost on (December 23, 2013, 9:03 GMT)

Good on Swann, likeable character. He earned the right to stop playing whenever he wanted to.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 23, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

The last of the classic, straight-arm spinners. All the ones with tricks have bent arms - all apparently legal in these days of bending the original rules to conform with the bent arms..Lest offence is given.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 8:40 GMT)

I was half expecting his retirement, although the timing mid-series was a surprise. I thought he could have been a real threat, especially in Sydney. Chances of a whitewash are improved I think.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 8:40 GMT)

He probably got told he was getting the chop so decided it was pointless carrying on...and he's probably feeling very miserable about the utter tuning they're suffering. That makes you act hastily now and then. If your arm's knackered and you can't face it then it is right not to play as you'd be pretty much guaranteed to play badly. It's not like playing for a village team, if you don't play really well then the team comprising people ranking among the best 25 or so that play for the other country will soon make you pay!.

Posted by Dirk_L on (December 23, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

Is Swann in the Tendulkar class, able to choose his retirement moment for maximal impact? If so, he wasted the opportunity appallingly. Or in the Mickey Arthur class, so that being dropped would come like a bolt from the blue? Neither, clearly, but somebody might have conveyed to him that he would not be selected for the next Test. That would make his mid-series retirement decision rational.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 23, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

I reckon he was on notice from the selectors and decided to jump. I'm not English so I didn't follow his career that closely apart from when he was playing against us, but he doesn't strike me as the type of bloke who would just give up in the middle of a job. He just doesn't seem the type at all.

England obviously has a very unhappy dressing room and while I can certainly empathise with that I find it hard to have too much sympathy. They really did do some strutting around and it looked to me as though they considered themselves to be as good, if not better, then the team they finally toppled in 2005. Just how the hell you equate a team that won one series in a row with a team that strung together 8 is a mystery I'll never solve, but that's the sort of stuff that started to come through. Admittedly the next run of 3 is much more worthy, but still, 3 isn't 8. .. That's one of the reasons our blokes decided they'd had just about enough of England beating them. Too insufferable by far.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

leaving in the middle of a series...that too one that u lost miserably...n ppl calling this decision brave? pray tell how? every sportsman goes through bad phases, but is obliged to see the team through, if not an entire season, then atleast the series. staying arnd n giving smartarsed interviews wen the going is gud, but running away at the first sign of tough times...such a brave lad!

Posted by vj_gooner on (December 23, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

Mark, I liked the Bayern-Barca comparison but just for a moment (only for a moment), you made me assume the England were Barca so that you complete your story. Quite funny!

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (December 23, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

Swann in my view has quit as he did not have it in him to fight any longer.

Posted by InsideHedge on (December 23, 2013, 6:58 GMT)

Selfish, pure and simple.

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

Yes ghe was a wonderful offspinner and to me who has always looked at most off spinners with a hint of suspicion when it comes to bowling a "doosra' or a straigter one that off spinners tend to bend the rules a bit, he has been the one with the most classic action. He was a fantastic slip catcher and a more than useful late order batsman with a flowing cover drive. While he claims to have the interest of the team at heart, I believe senior players have a commitment not only to the team but to the captain and board as well. This is capitulatio in the face of the enemy at their den and while any player has the right to call it quits when he wants to , the timing of this leaves a lot to be desired. Australia has been the proverbial straw on the camel"s back . Ramanujam sridhar

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 3:18 GMT)

this is very disappointing and makes the whole team look even worse. with his ability and experience he shouldn't have done this... so sad this cook nd fellow comrades.

Posted by gop_cricket on (December 23, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

Mark, Swan is entitled to have his decision to quit at any time, but do you really think it is the time? he should have remained in this team at least till the end of the series not at least to disturb team's moral and then announced the retirement makes sense to me and many others. But the timing he choose to retire sends some signals saying these England players are not that tough mentally or their management demands from the players is too much to players. See Trot before, now Swan and after the remaining two test don't know who else it may be. Coming to this guy I wish him good luck and he truly gave good pleasure of cricket during his playing days to all the cricket fans across the world. I wish him good luck.

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Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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