The Ashes 2013-14

Attacking Swann was our plan - Lehmann

Brydon Coverdale

December 22, 2013

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A
'One of England's great spinners' - Lehmann

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann believes the ability of his batsmen to hit the now retired Graeme Swann out of the attack over the first three Tests was a major contributor in Australia reclaiming the Ashes. However, Lehmann also said Swann had been a great bowler for England over his five years in the Test team and should serve as inspiration to Nathan Lyon, who like Swann is a regulation offspinner without doosras or mystery deliveries.

In England earlier this year, Swann was the leading wicket taker from either side when he collected 26 victims at 29.03, but in the return series in Australia on less friendly pitches he managed only seven at an average of 80. Notably, Swann also leaked runs at the alarming rate of 3.94 an over, easily his worst economy rate in any Test series, and it was the result of a plan from the Australians to take after Swann.

After Lehmann spoke to the press in Melbourne on Sunday, one journalist remarked to him that Swann's final act as a Test bowler was being taken for 21 off an over as Australia chased quick runs in the second innings in Perth. "Twenty-two," Lehmann corrected. He remembered clearly Shane Watson's three sixes and a four that fitted perfectly Australia's method against Swann.


Graeme Swann is delighted after getting the wicket of Chris Rogers, England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, 3rd day, Chester-le-Street, August 11, 2013
"He has been an exceptional bowler and bowled very well in England against us," Darren Lehmann said of Graeme Swann © Getty Images
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"We had a plan for him in England but didn't execute it as well. We changed things around a little bit," Lehmann said in Melbourne on Sunday. "He's a big player when they've only got four bowlers, or now they've got five with Stokes in their side, and you have to try and take one or two of them out of the equation and make their quicks bowl more. That was certainly a plan from us.

"He's been a great bowler for England and he's obviously decided enough is enough and moved forward in his life ... They're obviously going to go down Monty's path in the next two Test matches so it's a challenge for our blokes to change the way we play against left-arm spin. He [Swann] has been an exceptional bowler and bowled very well in England against us."

Swann's ability to take 255 Test wickets since debuting at the age of 29 in December 2008 - no bowlers has accumulated more Test victims in that period - has revitalised the art of offspin in Test cricket, particularly for those bowlers who lack unusual variations such as the doosra. One such bowler is Lyon, who has collected 95 wickets in 28 Test appearances and said he had looked up to Swann.

"If Nathan Lyon takes 255 he'd be pretty proud of himself I would think," Lehmann said. "Graeme has had a great career and contributed to England wins for a long period of time. Nathan can take heart from that. They're obviously very traditional offspinners. From Nathan's point of view he's got a good career in front of him and it's up to him to grab it with both hands."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

well done swanny, a brilliant career mate

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (December 23, 2013, 7:06 GMT)

''Swann's ability to take 255 Test wickets since debuting at the age of 29 in December 2008 - no bowlers has accumulated more Test victims in that period''… An exceptional stat when one thinks of the bowlers around…. (And to think he was kept out of the team by A Giles)… Well played Swanny, go and do, and say what you want mate… You have earned it…

Posted by   on (December 23, 2013, 6:47 GMT)

Also read Ashley Mallett's piece on Swann, as it seems an elbow injury has a part to play in Swann's decision to retire. So long Swanny, you've made a very good contribution to cricket not only in terms of your stats but also in the way you play the game. Despite being an Aussie fan, I loved watching you bowl.

Posted by Thegimp on (December 23, 2013, 0:14 GMT)

Why does everyone forget about Vetori in spinning comparisons?

Posted by   on (December 22, 2013, 23:05 GMT)

Swann says he retired as he isnt selfish and doesnt want to play on for the aake of it, but then goes out and says he wanted.to play one more ashes down under, even thought he k ows his figures here are ot good, act of an selfish man? to me it just doesnt add up

Posted by wapuser on (December 22, 2013, 22:20 GMT)

Graeme Swann. One of my favorite personalities in world cricket. Best of luck with your future endeavors.

Posted by   on (December 22, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

The word is he was being dropped for Melbourne and he chose to go out his way. Not a bad career G Swann - enjoy your retirement.

Posted by mzm149 on (December 22, 2013, 20:36 GMT)

Swann is clearly the second best spinner after Ajmal among those playing now. He should have taken some time off like Trott, instead of just retiring. England team is in big trouble after his untimely retirement. There is no one of his caliber to take his place.

Posted by USIndianFan on (December 22, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

Well the aging of the England team is showing through. Still he should not have quit in the middle though....

Posted by Diaz54 on (December 22, 2013, 13:57 GMT)

Asim Shaikh, wrong England lost to pak 3-0 so 2nd bad series.,you are correct though about being mentally week....the impressions are ally wrong..too. Much talking before the series bit no delivery. I think the softness comes from being paid too much.

Posted by cloudmess on (December 22, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

I didn't know anyone read these comments;) But I stand by what I wrote. Warne and Murali were in a different league to anyone, but for the best of the rest I'd put Swann alongside, and not below, the likes of Kumble, Harbhajan, MacGill and Qadir - look at the stats (and even Murali only averaged 40 in Australia). Look at his number of 5-fors (surely an indication of how he influenced games). Also remember that Swann did not have the benefit of playing more than half of his games on helpful Asian wickets. Someone mentions Harbajhan "for the first 3/4 of his career" - you could say a similar thing about Swann, where he averaged around 27, 28 from 2008 - 2012, before his elbow started to bother him. In terms of English spinners, only Underwood and Laker have better figures - but both of them specialised in bowling sides out on wet, uncovered pitches; they could be quite anodyne on better wickets.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 22, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

I guess it's mission accomplished by Boof then. Swann has been well and truly neutralised. One more shock in the most dramatic Ashes since '05.

It's sobering to think that Lyon has another 3 years before he'll be the age Swann was on debut. I guess he's some chance of having 250 wickets by then.

Posted by   on (December 22, 2013, 11:52 GMT)

You never hear ex Aussie players pasting current players? Oh really, Jeff Thomson, Kimmy Hughes or an Ian Chappel anyone?

Posted by Gabbagod on (December 22, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

@cloudmess. I can understand your thoughts as there has been a lot of pro Aussie comments and rightfully so on this site in the last month BUT Swann averaged 40 against us and over 50 in Australia. Maybe we didn't see the best of him but he certainly wasn't in the top echelon against us or South Africa. Respect to him though and hope he has a great retirement (read year in the IPL) and then many more on TMS.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 22, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

Swann was ranked as one of the best spinners in the world when he played, especially good when you consider that when he made his test debut 5 years ago it was as an all-rounder, who was meant to follow in Andrew Flintoff's footsteps (as was Stuart Broad!) His average was pretty reasonable but you have to consider that England doesn't always have good conditions for spinners, so his record compared to people in the subcontinent is always going to be worse. Still pretty good though. And he was not out of form - his previous 3 test series saw him average under 30 - and he was the best bowler for England in the last Ashes just 3 months ago! Incredible stuff to retire now, given that most spinners don't even hit their peak until their late 30s! He is 34! I wonder if he will come out of retirement by the time that this Ashes is over. This is a knee jerk reaction and surely can't be real. This Ashes is going from bad to worse for England.

Posted by   on (December 22, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

One bad series and you retire!! This is 2nd instance when an english player has retired after a bad series after andrew strauss last year. It gives the impression that these english cricketers are not mentally tough enough to come back after a bad phase. Had these been the case in India then tendulkar would have retired 15 years ago.

Posted by Meety on (December 22, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

@cloudmess on (December 22, 2013, 9:25 GMT) - actually most Ozzy fans have been supportive of him. In regards to only being 2 spinners better than him 30yrs, you are wrong. Warne, Murali, McGill, Kumble, Harbhajan (first 3/4 of his career), Swann. Some of the more modern spinners don't get rated yet - as they haven't played long enuff.

Posted by   on (December 22, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

@cloudmess. have england forgotten the overall statistics of total ashes matches. out of 334 matches aus haven around 136 and england have one 105.

Posted by whensdrinks on (December 22, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

@cloudmess - If we ignore McGill, Kumble, Mushtaq and even Underwood I suppose Swann makes the top 3. But I would rather have the above 4 in my team.

Posted by whensdrinks on (December 22, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

If you are taking more then 4 wickets a test at less then 30 you are doing alright. I wouldn't rate him as a great bowler, but on pitches that suited him he was very dangerous.

Don't know all his reasons for going but quitting mid tour because you are losing is a bit weak.

Posted by cloudmess on (December 22, 2013, 9:25 GMT)

I see some of the usual Aussie comments on here (who will now conveniently forget the 3 previous Ashes series), that Swann was 'mediocre' and 'overrated,just because he was clearly struggling with an elbow injury in the last year'. Well, he took more wickets at a better average than the likes of Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed (both of whom played on many more Asian pitches). He has a similar average to Stuart MacGill and Anil Kumble. Were they both mediocre too? He's been streets ahead of anything Australia have produced post-Warne. There are only 2 spinners in the game who were better than Swann in the last 30 years. Not bad going if you ask me.

Posted by LancashireHotSpot on (December 22, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

Swann has taken apart more batting lineups than I care to remember over the last 5 years and has been arguably the world's most effective spinner in that period, taking wickets at key moments in key series and is hardly 'overrated'. And as for Anderson, only a fool would claim that the player 21st on the list of bowlers with the highest number of wickets taken (Dale Steyn is the only current quick above him) is overrated. Both have been out of form during this Ashes series but who would you replace Anderson with??? Especially with Broad carrying an injury.

Posted by valvolux on (December 22, 2013, 8:40 GMT)

Perhaps it was the fact that Swann had to back up so quickly between innings due to poor first innings performances by the english batsmen, that he feels so tired. So the english team can all be blamed for that and shouldn't expect a guy who needs to bowl that much to perform that well in the second innings. It just seems strange, after a stellar summer, that he would pull the pin now. Knee jerk stuff from England - sure they have been left suprised, but its only one series and every team has a bad series now and again. Maybe he was ever so slightly pushed? Maybe it was because his average is 29.96 and wanted to maintain an average below 30? He isnt the first, nor the last, spinner to struggle in Australia. Swann is too young, as a spinner, and too good, to give up now. Perhaps the pasting they've taken from their own media was too much for him? The english media is filled with ex players who were jaded by their own poor performances. You never hear ex aussies pasting players.

Posted by   on (December 22, 2013, 8:38 GMT)

Australia is a burying ground for English players

Posted by Jaffa79 on (December 22, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

Swann averages the same as Kumble, Lance Gibbs, MacGill, Prasanna and just shy of Bishen Bedi. He is not in Murali or Warne's category but must be considered one of the best spinners of this modern era. The fact he has taken more wickets than anyone since his debut tells you that. @BradsmanBestEver...typical sneering Aussie effort. Nothing unusual there. You are probably one of those declaring MJ 'great' because he has had his first good series in years. Swann was a huge reason why England beat you 3 times on the spin, went to number 1 and beat India in India. No mean feats! Great? No. Bloody good? Definitely.

Posted by jimbond on (December 22, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

Swann was very good. I have seen him in his initial phase bowl at very good Indian batsmen like Dravid, Sehwag and Tendulkar, and he earned their respect.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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