England in New Zealand 2012-13 March 6, 2013

Surgery vital to extend career - Swann

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Graeme Swann said he had no option but to go under the knife again on his right elbow if he wanted to extend his England career.

Swann found out the extent of the problem that involves floating bone fragments - which he has managed for four years since his last surgery in 2009 - on the morning of the first Test against New Zealand in Dunedin. His concerns had been raised during the warm-up match in Queenstown, where he bowled 42 overs, and scans taken after arriving in Dunedin were then viewed by the specialist, Dr Shawn O'Driscoll, in America who said that further surgery was now required.

"I know if I don't have the surgery it's more or less curtains," he said. "I'm assured the surgery is relatively simple, so touch wood it will be and I'll wake up on the other end and everything will be great.

"I said yesterday that I was trying to go through my whole career without needing surgery again, but the specialist came back and said something needed to be done. So be it. It's a huge year for English cricket and a huge year for me, so if this means taking a more active part in it then it's something I have to do."

Swann will travel to Rochester, Minnesota, within the next week and still harbours hopes of being back in action for the return visit of New Zealand in May ahead of the Champions Trophy, which is then followed by the first of the back-to-back Ashes series in July. In 2009, Swann had surgery following the Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean that finished in March and was back in time for the return series in May of that year

Although Swann said he would only have a clear indication of his recovery period after meeting with the specialist, he felt confident that he would not be sidelined for too long after his experiences in 2009. He has been assured that the state of his elbow now is not as bad as four years ago when he had said, "it was like a bomb had gone off in there."

"In layman's terms it needs a bit of a clean-out. It doesn't seem anywhere near as dire as last time around. I knew something wasn't right [in Queenstown] as I couldn't put an extra snap on the ball when I was bowling. I like to turn the ball a lot and I was only 70-80 percent fit.

"It all came about quite suddenly to be honest," he added. "I've struggled on and off for the last four years but it never really manifested itself into a dire predicament for me. But in Queenstown, just before the game, I started to feel an unusual pain that I hadn't felt since before the last operation and it got worse during that game. I raised by fears with the doctor and Andy [Flower] and the scans showed there had been deterioration."

Swann did admit to misgivings as he prepared for his long trip to the USA followed by a rehabilitation programme that will involve using a CPM machine - a device that keeps the arm constantly moving day and night. The machine drove Swann "around the bend" in 2009, and Tim Bresnan has been experiencing it recently following his elbow surgery.

"You just never know with surgery, do you?" Swann said. "And the fact you are having surgery means you have a pretty serious injury so, I was hoping I'd get through my playing days. I want to play as much a part in this year as possible.

"It's so fresh and just landed on me. Two days ago, I was preparing for a Test and now I'm flying to Rochester to get sorted out. I'll be relieved once it's done but I'm a bit apprehensive now because I don't like general anesthetics."

This was the first time Swann had missed a Test through injury - the other three matches he has been absent for since his debut in late 2008 were for tactical reasons - although his workload in limited-overs cricket is being managed. He missed the series in India during January and the Twenty20s in New Zealand before returning for the 50-over leg of this tour. However, he did not indicate a desire to retire from one-day cricket after the latest news.

"The whole point of the operation is that it will extend my career," he said. "If it gives me a chance to keep playing for England for longer than I would have had then it's great news."

It all means that for the New Zealand tour, Monty Panesar becomes England's senior spinner having yet to bowl a competitive delivery on the trip while James Tredwell, the Kent offspinner, is joining the squad. If the outcome for Swann is not as positive as he hopes, either of them could yet be playing a key part in England's year.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY ozziespirit on | March 7, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    Swann is probably the best spinner in the world and, has to be said, proved it by his 20 wickets in India. Aus don't have a decent spinner and that's embarrassing yes, but we have a more than decent pace attack that's gonna be awesome on green tops.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    RandyOz - Why is having a lower bowling average than Nathan Lyon a bad thing? The Aussies look even worse at playing spin than we did in the UAE last year, and that's saying something... Bring Lyon to England, heck bring Doherty and Maxwell too! We'd appreciate that.

  • POSTED BY cric_J on | March 7, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    Get back quickly Swanny .I am desperately waiting for the Swanny's Ashes Diary reports in the summer.And obviously the cricket itself.Recover well and quick.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | March 7, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    @ RandyOZ: Lyon - LOL. How's he turned out? Those spinners paradise pitches in India must be really easy for him to bowl on eh? LOL

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | March 6, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    Swann, with an average of 40 against the Aussies and a career average far less than Lyon, will struggle to get back in time for the Ashes, and that's a good thing for him. That average would only increase.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | March 6, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    This doesn't come as that much of a surprise. I think I said on an earlier forum that there had to be a reason why Monty was prominent in this tour - well - now we know the reason. @Adithya Raghunathan - beautifully put. We are all fans of this great game - bravo to you.

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | March 6, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    as in india bowling wise it will not hurt us as both are world class bowlers. his batting i hope will not be needed,but slip fielding will.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | March 6, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    Having spent the last 1-2 years playing while actually injured, Swanny's done magnificently well. This chapter of his career only serves to highlight once again who in the world has a quality spinner and who has none at all. Australia certainly fall into the latter, obviously, and it's been great watching Swanny outbowl any Australian spinner he's come up against, just like every Aussie captain has been out-captained for that matter too. And that only serves to remind that every different Australian team has been outclassed every time the two teams meet, whether it be in an Ashes mauling or a ODI Whitewash. Good luck with the recovery Swanny, expect to see you back for June/July.

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | March 6, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    Sad to lose Swanny - who has been ever-present in Andy Flower's successful team for the last 4 years. But it is a real opportunity for Monty - any uneveness in the NZ pitches will make Monty a handful, as he pushes the ball through so quickly. Don't rule him out taking a 5-for in the series. You read it here first.

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | March 6, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Given that he is almost essential to England the surgeon needs to be good at his work. Anyway I wish him the best of luck and happy outcome.

  • POSTED BY ozziespirit on | March 7, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    Swann is probably the best spinner in the world and, has to be said, proved it by his 20 wickets in India. Aus don't have a decent spinner and that's embarrassing yes, but we have a more than decent pace attack that's gonna be awesome on green tops.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    RandyOz - Why is having a lower bowling average than Nathan Lyon a bad thing? The Aussies look even worse at playing spin than we did in the UAE last year, and that's saying something... Bring Lyon to England, heck bring Doherty and Maxwell too! We'd appreciate that.

  • POSTED BY cric_J on | March 7, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    Get back quickly Swanny .I am desperately waiting for the Swanny's Ashes Diary reports in the summer.And obviously the cricket itself.Recover well and quick.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | March 7, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    @ RandyOZ: Lyon - LOL. How's he turned out? Those spinners paradise pitches in India must be really easy for him to bowl on eh? LOL

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | March 6, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    Swann, with an average of 40 against the Aussies and a career average far less than Lyon, will struggle to get back in time for the Ashes, and that's a good thing for him. That average would only increase.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | March 6, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    This doesn't come as that much of a surprise. I think I said on an earlier forum that there had to be a reason why Monty was prominent in this tour - well - now we know the reason. @Adithya Raghunathan - beautifully put. We are all fans of this great game - bravo to you.

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | March 6, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    as in india bowling wise it will not hurt us as both are world class bowlers. his batting i hope will not be needed,but slip fielding will.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | March 6, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    Having spent the last 1-2 years playing while actually injured, Swanny's done magnificently well. This chapter of his career only serves to highlight once again who in the world has a quality spinner and who has none at all. Australia certainly fall into the latter, obviously, and it's been great watching Swanny outbowl any Australian spinner he's come up against, just like every Aussie captain has been out-captained for that matter too. And that only serves to remind that every different Australian team has been outclassed every time the two teams meet, whether it be in an Ashes mauling or a ODI Whitewash. Good luck with the recovery Swanny, expect to see you back for June/July.

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | March 6, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    Sad to lose Swanny - who has been ever-present in Andy Flower's successful team for the last 4 years. But it is a real opportunity for Monty - any uneveness in the NZ pitches will make Monty a handful, as he pushes the ball through so quickly. Don't rule him out taking a 5-for in the series. You read it here first.

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | March 6, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Given that he is almost essential to England the surgeon needs to be good at his work. Anyway I wish him the best of luck and happy outcome.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | March 6, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    Swann is 34 and nearing the end anyway, and most of England's top players are over 30... Many will start having these kinds of problems.

  • POSTED BY keptalittlelow on | March 6, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    Best of luck Swanny, you need to play more for the fans.

  • POSTED BY Selassie-I on | March 6, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    Get well soon Swanny. Nice fro Monty to have another run in the team, I don't hink a single person can claim not to like the lovely lad from Luton!

  • POSTED BY Tom_Bowler on | March 6, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Cross fingers and hope his recovery is complete and speedy. One of the things that enabled England to play such dominant cricket up until last summer was the ability of the tail to score quick runs. With Bresnan and Swann sidelined and Broad carrying an injury we won't have that luxury in the immediate future.

  • POSTED BY on | March 6, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    Comeon Swanny, do the surgurey and com back strongly cricket need you for the next 10 years. I was a grt honour to see you from stands of wankede , dominating the indian batting lineup

  • POSTED BY MaheshVenkat on | March 6, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    @Dark_Harlequin: Did you say "dull" cricket. You can say disappointing as an aussie fan but with the matches producing results, scoring at good pace, wickets falling regularly, fair chance at the end of day 3 in Chennai (before the Dhoni knock) it was anything but dull.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | March 6, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Swann is such a wonderful player and competitor to watch (the "sprinkler" notwithstanding) it would be a shame to lose him to injury. Fingers crossed for a full and speedy recovery.

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | March 6, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    Had to have flared up in Queenstown - if he was in any trouble after the India tour he would not have been risked I'm sure. Hopefully he'll get fit in time for the Ashes - his home record in the two marquee series in the last two summers (India & South Africa) was actually quite poor so therefore it might not be quite the blow it appears, but I feel a lot more comfortable with Swann in the team, especially with the amount of left-handers it looks like Australia will be bringing over. I have no problems with Panesar stepping in for this series at all, but don't fancy he'd be all that effective against Australia's line-up. Be interesting to see if Tredwell gets a game too - it would be unfair on Monty, but I think it would be worth having a look at JT to see if he can replicate his mainly excellent limited overs bowling in Tests.

  • POSTED BY Charlie101 on | March 6, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    I really feel for Graham Swann as it is the wrong time to have surgery with such a full year ahead . In addition Monty has such ability that he could cement himself in the side for the Ashes series.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | March 6, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 6, 2013, 5:37 GMT) You're right that it will be interesting to see him bowl in unhelpful conditions and also as a lone spinner - which I believe (for England) will be the 1st time in years. Re the preparation (or doctoring as you call it) of pitches , the SKY pundits were talking about that as an idea and that was BEFORE the India series started. I'd be all for it if it was possible because Monty and Swann have obviously been far more effective on spinning tracks than the Oz spinners have been - even if by general consensus their best spinner was not there and it would negate Aus strength (their pace attack) a little. Unfortunately we rarely have the weather to prepare dry dusty pitches

  • POSTED BY zoot364 on | March 6, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    He needs to use his elbow to impart "extra snap" on the ball? Interesting...

  • POSTED BY Harlequin. on | March 6, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    @Mitty2, I don't think England will doctor the pitches too much, afterall there isn't much sun in the UK so it isn't easy to make proper turners! I think we can expect seaming conditions, and I do hope that's what we get; the pitches both our teams have endured in India recently have made for some incredibly dull cricket.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | March 6, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    The Test he missed v Sth Africa recently I thought was because of his elbow. Anyways, best of luck from Oz.

  • POSTED BY Sarangarajan on | March 6, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Get the opeartion done and get well soon Swann.My best wishes to you. A fully fit Swann is what we all hope to see in the scheduled "Aussie bashing" in July.Wishing you all the best.

  • POSTED BY Clive_Dunn on | March 6, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    I can tell you in advance what the english pitches will be like - Trent Bridge will favour swing if the overhead conditions allow, it'll have a green tinge for the morning of day one making it a tough start if you are batting first. Old Trafford will have a bit of pace, but less than a few years ago. Again, it might swing if overheads allow. Lords will be a flat batting track if its sunny, Durham will favour pace and the Oval might turn a bit day 4 and 5 if the sun is out. We will play the Aussies on the same pitches ( well Durham aside ) we've always played them on, the only variable is the weather.

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | March 6, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Will be very interesting to see panesar bowl in unhelpful conditions where he has performed so well recently, both in India and the UAE. With his current form, and with swanns proven record (albeit not against Australia), and with the dire batting against spin on turners by Australia, there might be a temptation to doctor such pitches!

    Especially with three 2012 test series against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all in the sub continent, all though the ledger reads (3-5 against), they have plenty of experience and have a very good bowling attack to suplement the conditions. (swann + panesar performed very well in these conditions and anderson will swing his mediums in any conditions). And of course, all though the batsmen performed terribly in the pak whitewash, the majority performed in the more recent and tougher conditions of india and so will have confidence.

    These pitches will also negate aus's primary and settled strength; their pace bowling; Bird and starc would love the duke.

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  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | March 6, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Will be very interesting to see panesar bowl in unhelpful conditions where he has performed so well recently, both in India and the UAE. With his current form, and with swanns proven record (albeit not against Australia), and with the dire batting against spin on turners by Australia, there might be a temptation to doctor such pitches!

    Especially with three 2012 test series against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all in the sub continent, all though the ledger reads (3-5 against), they have plenty of experience and have a very good bowling attack to suplement the conditions. (swann + panesar performed very well in these conditions and anderson will swing his mediums in any conditions). And of course, all though the batsmen performed terribly in the pak whitewash, the majority performed in the more recent and tougher conditions of india and so will have confidence.

    These pitches will also negate aus's primary and settled strength; their pace bowling; Bird and starc would love the duke.

  • POSTED BY Clive_Dunn on | March 6, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    I can tell you in advance what the english pitches will be like - Trent Bridge will favour swing if the overhead conditions allow, it'll have a green tinge for the morning of day one making it a tough start if you are batting first. Old Trafford will have a bit of pace, but less than a few years ago. Again, it might swing if overheads allow. Lords will be a flat batting track if its sunny, Durham will favour pace and the Oval might turn a bit day 4 and 5 if the sun is out. We will play the Aussies on the same pitches ( well Durham aside ) we've always played them on, the only variable is the weather.

  • POSTED BY Sarangarajan on | March 6, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Get the opeartion done and get well soon Swann.My best wishes to you. A fully fit Swann is what we all hope to see in the scheduled "Aussie bashing" in July.Wishing you all the best.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | March 6, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    The Test he missed v Sth Africa recently I thought was because of his elbow. Anyways, best of luck from Oz.

  • POSTED BY Harlequin. on | March 6, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    @Mitty2, I don't think England will doctor the pitches too much, afterall there isn't much sun in the UK so it isn't easy to make proper turners! I think we can expect seaming conditions, and I do hope that's what we get; the pitches both our teams have endured in India recently have made for some incredibly dull cricket.

  • POSTED BY zoot364 on | March 6, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    He needs to use his elbow to impart "extra snap" on the ball? Interesting...

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | March 6, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 6, 2013, 5:37 GMT) You're right that it will be interesting to see him bowl in unhelpful conditions and also as a lone spinner - which I believe (for England) will be the 1st time in years. Re the preparation (or doctoring as you call it) of pitches , the SKY pundits were talking about that as an idea and that was BEFORE the India series started. I'd be all for it if it was possible because Monty and Swann have obviously been far more effective on spinning tracks than the Oz spinners have been - even if by general consensus their best spinner was not there and it would negate Aus strength (their pace attack) a little. Unfortunately we rarely have the weather to prepare dry dusty pitches

  • POSTED BY Charlie101 on | March 6, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    I really feel for Graham Swann as it is the wrong time to have surgery with such a full year ahead . In addition Monty has such ability that he could cement himself in the side for the Ashes series.

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | March 6, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    Had to have flared up in Queenstown - if he was in any trouble after the India tour he would not have been risked I'm sure. Hopefully he'll get fit in time for the Ashes - his home record in the two marquee series in the last two summers (India & South Africa) was actually quite poor so therefore it might not be quite the blow it appears, but I feel a lot more comfortable with Swann in the team, especially with the amount of left-handers it looks like Australia will be bringing over. I have no problems with Panesar stepping in for this series at all, but don't fancy he'd be all that effective against Australia's line-up. Be interesting to see if Tredwell gets a game too - it would be unfair on Monty, but I think it would be worth having a look at JT to see if he can replicate his mainly excellent limited overs bowling in Tests.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | March 6, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Swann is such a wonderful player and competitor to watch (the "sprinkler" notwithstanding) it would be a shame to lose him to injury. Fingers crossed for a full and speedy recovery.