England in New Zealand 2012-13 March 5, 2013

Swann out of tour for elbow surgery


Graeme Swann has been ruled out of England's tour of New Zealand and will undergo surgery on his right elbow in America next week as he faces a battle to fit for the start of the Ashes in July.

The seriousness of Swann's problem emerged on the first morning in Dunedin when he was left out of the starting XI. James Tredwell, the Kent offspinner, has been called into the squad while Monty Panesar was named in the team for the first Test. Swann's surgery will take place at the same hospital where Tim Bresnan recently had his elbow operation.

An ECB statement said: "England offspinner Graeme Swann has been ruled out of the current Test series against New Zealand due to a right elbow injury. Swann will travel to the United States next week to have an operation and will then undergo a period of rehabilitation allowing an anticipated return to competitive cricket in the early summer. A further update will be available following the operation."

Swann, 33, first had surgery on the elbow in 2009 when the surgeon removed 29 fragments of bone but had to leave some in place because of their proximity to the nerves. Swann has always said how he wanted to avoid another operation and hoped to get through the rest of his career but has been forced under the knife again.

Swann needed treatment during England's warm-up match in Queenstown and admitted his worries in his newspaper column in the build-up to the Test before being left out of the Dunedin match. It was only the fourth time Swann had been left out of a Test and the previous three occasions - twice in West Indies in 2009 and against South Africa, at Headingley, last year - have been for tactical reasons.

Swann was already being carefully managed through England's one-day commitments and missed the recent 50-over leg of the India trip and the Twenty20s at the start of the New Zealand tour.

"We are embarking on arguably England's greatest year of Test cricket ever and I can't wait for the back-to-back Ashes series," Swann wrote in his Sun column. "But I have one big worry - the state of my right elbow. It caused me discomfort again during our only warm-up match before the first Test and I had to leave the field.

"I'll be honest, the elbow is always a concern. It's been hanging over me for several years and, despite having an operation in 2009, the problem hasn't entirely gone away.

"It would be a massive pain in the backside if my wonky elbow forced me to miss any of the Tests against Australia. I'm absolutely determined to be available for what might be my final two Ashes series - and that means managing the elbow as well as possible.

"I really don't want to have another operation. For two weeks after my op, I was in bed with a machine keeping my arm in continual motion for 23 hours a day. It was a testing time - and poor old Tim Bresnan has been going through the same thing after his operation in America. This year of all years, I don't want the elbow to cause any problems. I want to be fit for as much Test cricket as possible and, fingers crossed, I will be."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on March 6, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    I don't care if Swanny misses the home NZ Tests and Champions Trophy - as long as he's fit for The Ashes. I'm sure he'll see it that way too. I definitely agree that whatever happens, he should give-up ODI's and T20. We're lucky to have two other quality spinners in Panesar and Tredwell to fill the gap, and surely that'd give him the best chance of extending his Test career. Swanny is our no.1 spinner, and we want him playing again soon; though with two such competent replacements, he'll not be missed as much as he should. Let's hope surgery this time does the trick, and that he's raring to go and stick it up the Aussies!

  • Martin on March 6, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    As someone who has been under the knife a bit lately I am mortified to read this. But Graham Swann is made of tough stuff - if I know anything then I bet he will come back stronger than ever. Go Swanneeee!

  • John on March 6, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    This is the real test for Monty now that Swann is going to be out of the team for quite a while. We'll get to see how Monty bowls in unhelpful conditions and being the lone spinner.

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Monty is a better bowler than Swann

  • Roo on March 6, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    No surprised at the news & commented a long time ago that Swann should consider getting the 2nd operation out of the way, but he seemed very reluctant... Water under the bridge now - just hope he recovers fully for the winter Ashes... Still it gives Monty a chance to show his wares & have always liked him as a bowler - so good luck to both...

  • VENKATACHALAM on March 6, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    A ray of hope for Phillip Hughes !

  • John on March 6, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    There's no denying that this is a major blow for Swann and England. Swann's value as a spinner who can take wickets on helpful pitches and bowl economically on flat tracks, a hard-hitting lower-order batsman, a slip fielder and not least someone who keeps the morale of the side up (who can forget the sprinkler dance?) is going to be impossible to replace and hard to compensate for.

    Monty is a good bowler, but his batting and fielding aren't in the same league as Swann's. Tredwell isn't the bowler Swann is, but he won't let England down. However, let's hope that Swanny is fit and back to form for the Ashes.

    Good luck with the op, Graeme. Every cricket fan wishes you well.

  • John on March 6, 2013, 2:09 GMT

    I'm sure Monty Panesar wanted no ill to befall Graeme Swann but he'll still be excited to get a run in the team as first spinner again, albeit that he got more overs than Swann even as second spinner in the games he played in UAE, SL and India. It will be interesting to see what he can do when conditions are not considered helpful to spinners. The rain at the moment is frustrating enough but it's also reducing the playing time in what could be Monty's last Test series.

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    No doubt this will be severely 'armful for our chances...

  • David on March 6, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    An off spinner with an injury to his right elbow? Interesting. Has anybody got that protractor at the ready?

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