England news March 14, 2013

Swann surgery 'uncomplicated' - ECB

Graeme Swann is on course to return to action early in the English season after undergoing elbow surgery in the United States.

The ECB described the operation in Rochester, Minnesota, during which bone fragments were removed from the elbow, as "uncomplicated" and said Swann will now begin a six-eight week recovery period, which gives him a timescale of returning to cricket in May.

England's first internationals of the season are two Tests against New Zealand, the first of which begins on May 16, but the realistic aim for Swann would appear to be the Champions Trophy in June, which precedes the Ashes. A decision will need to be made over whether it would benefit him more to play first-class cricket for Nottinghamshire instead of ODIs.

Swann, 33, was ruled out of the current tour of New Zealand on the opening day of the series in Dunedin after it was decided he needed a second operation on his right elbow, which was previously dealt with in 2009. He had felt pain - to a greater degree than he has managed over the last four years - during the warm-up match in Queenstown and was sent for scans.

The ECB statement said: "England and Nottinghamshire offspinner Graeme Swann has undergone an uncomplicated operation on his right elbow to excise excess bone formation that had re-accumulated following his previous operation four years ago.

"Swann will now commence a six-eight week rehabilitation and back to bowling programme before returning to competitive cricket early in the summer."

The surgeon, Dr Shawn O'Driscoll, who earlier this year operated on Tim Bresnan's elbow, told the Guardian. "The operation went exactly as we had planned, and no complications have been experienced. So we're hoping it will be a routine rehabilitation programme and following that we'll be able to say better what his return to fitness will be."

Before heading home from New Zealand, where he spent a couple of days before travelling to the US, Swann was feeling positive about his prognosis and said that the problem did not feel as bad as when he had his first operation in 2009. "It doesn't seem anywhere near as dire as last time around when it was like a bomb had gone off in there."

Swann's recovery will involve being strapped into a machine that keeps his elbow moving constantly. Bresnan used the same process during his recent recovery and it was the part of the rehab Swann was not looking forward to after it "drove him around the bend" in 2009. If the reward is being fit for a potentially career-defining back-to-back Ashes campaign any sacrifice will be worth it.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo