The Ashes 2013-14 December 22, 2013

Swann leaves huge hole for England to fill

Graeme Swann will be remembered as England's finest spinner since Derek Underwood and their finest off-spinner since Jim Laker. The fact that he had a bowling average of 22 in the Tests he won underlines his colossal value to the side
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George Dobell: Five things I love about Graeme Swann

Of all the players that took England to No. 1 in the Test rankings and their first global silverware, Graeme Swann might prove the hardest to replace.

Swann did not possess the talent of Kevin Pietersen and does not finish his career with the records of Alastair Cook, but he was the man that balanced the England side. As a spinner good enough to demand respect in the first innings and threaten in the second, his involvement allowed England to field a four-man attack while his excellent catching and aggressive lower-order batting gave him an edge over all his rivals for the role. England have nothing close to a replacement.

He probably deserved a better send-off. He probably deserved better than seeing his final over in Test cricket thrashed for 22 and the side he had done so much to improve humbled in the series about which he cared most.

But sport doesn't work like that. For the vast majority it ends in tears. And Swann, reflecting the experience of this England team, arrived in Australia in high spirits only to leave broken and disappointed a few weeks later. It really is always later than we think.

"It's easy to wish you'd gone out taking 10-for in your last game and been hoisted on to people's shoulders as you walk off," he said. "But I look back and I don't regret a single day I've had for England. They're all part and parcel of the magnificent journey I've been on."

There had been increasing signs, as well as rumours, that his right elbow - twice operated upon - was bothering him again in recent weeks. It was not that he was bowling poorly - he seldom did - just that he couldn't bowl as well for as long. When Australia's batsmen, confident and playing on fine wickets, attacked he had no longer had the answer.

There will be those who accuse him of selfishness for retiring mid-series. But if he knew his form had dipped, if he knew he was no longer quite capable of reaching the standards he once did, if he knew the light had gone out, he is right to go.

Personal records and landmarks are fine, but they are never and should never be what a team sport is about. Besides, if Swann waited for England to uncover a replacement, he might be playing until he was 60. There are decent young spinners in county cricket - Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq and Nottinghamshire's Sam Wood stick out, though Swann backed Monty Panesar to take his place in the short-term and Durham's leg-spinning allrounder Scott Borthwick in the longer - but there is no-one anywhere near Swann's class.

"I knew more or less that the time was coming up," he said. "At the end of the Oval Test, I think 'why didn't I just stop then?' But then I'd never have forgive myself if I hadn't come out here and given it a crack - we had the chance to potentially win four Ashes series on the bounce. When I came out on this trip, I half expected it to be my last tour for England.

"It was probably halfway through the Perth game [that I made the decision]. My body doesn't like playing long forms of cricket. My arm doesn't cope very well with bowling 30-40 overs in the first innings and then repeating it in the second innings a day later. I could feel my performances tapering off towards the back end of games and I wasn't happy with that. I'm not willing just to hang on and get by being a bit-part player. I want to be a guy who wants to win matches for England and I don't feel I was doing that in the second innings any more. As a result, it is time to go."

The ending should not obscure the achievements. Swann will be remembered as England's finest spinner since Derek Underwood and their finest offspinner since Jim Laker. The fact that he had a bowling average of 22 in the Tests he won - 30 of the 60 he played - underlines his colossal value to the side. Bearing in mind the era in which he played, with shorter boundaries, better bats and covered pitches offering little, a Test bowling average a fraction under 30 is deeply impressive. He reached 250 Test wickets in just his 58th Test, becoming the quickest finger-spinner to the landmark in Test history.

Some feel that Swann revived the art of traditional off-spin, but it is hard to see many following in his footsteps. It is more likely that Swann simply provided a coda to the life of the traditional off-spinner. It really is possible that his like - sans 'doosra' - will not be seen again excelling at the top level.

Certainly Swann was something of a throwback. With an unimpeachable action, relied on weapons that were thought to be obsolete before he started: a bow and arrow in the age of the gun. But his ability to get the ball to dip sharply remained dangerous until the end - he dismissed Michael Clarke, perhaps the best player of spin in the world, in such fashion in the first innings in Perth - while his sharp turn, unusually good arm-ball and excellent control rendered him valuable on good wickets and deadly on those offering assistance. It was a package good enough to see him rated, for a while, No. 1 in the ODI and T20 bowling rankings and No. 2 in Tests.

Quite when he made the transition in perception from honest journeyman enjoying a few days in the sun to a highly-respected, key player is hard to say. It wasn't when he dismissed Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid in his first over of Test cricket in 2008; it wasn't when he bowled England to Ashes victory at The Oval in 2009 - the moment he described on Sunday as the greatest in his career - and it wasn't when he bowled England to victory in Durban later the same year. But somewhere, as he claimed five-wicket hauls in the Caribbean, in Bangladesh, in India, in Australia, in South Africa, in Sri Lanka, in the UAE and in England, it became apparent that Swann's success was not fleeting and fortunate. He had developed into a high-class bowler.

He will remembered, too, for playing the game with a smile. Of course there were frustrating days where that smile was hidden for a while, but Swann - having only broken into the Test side in his late 20s - never lost sight of how fortunate he was to play cricket for a living and represent his country in the process.

The salary may have increased, the pressures too, but Swann remained, at heart, the enthusiastic boy who used to watch his father, Ray, playing minor counties cricket, and emerged as a likeable larrikin while he developed through the Northamptonshire system with his brother, Alec. Later, when he moved on to Nottinghamshire, he embraced the fitness and lifestyle choices that hoped him maximise his talent, but the sense of job never ebbed. Family, club and county can take much pride in his success.

"I hope my legacy is someone who always enjoyed it," Swann said. "Someone who always played with a smile on his face.

"But since I got back in the England team, I've treated every day like a lottery win. That's what it is. I've been privileged to play international cricket. It really annoys me when people take it for granted and get above their station; they shouldn't.

"It's the most privileged thing any man can do. I hope people will look back and say 'Yeah, he did always play with a smile on his face and enjoyed himself ... and he walked as well, when he nicked it'."

Swann's departure, Jonathan Trott's absence and the loss of the Ashes all point to the same conclusion: the foundations of England's success have crumbled and they have now entered a rebuilding phase. It could well contain some very uncomfortable moments. And, as England struggle to regain former ground, Swann's immense contribution could well win greater recognition and respect.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 25, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    Graeme Swann would be remembered for some other reason. How many times he got a wicket in the first over of his spell? At once, England captain almost knew that the opposition would be one more down in the next over as i am gonna unleash swann ;) :p. Salutes man.

  • on December 25, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    A cricketer with such character! - Cricket will miss him; Thank You Swann for the entertainment

  • on December 23, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    What a great bowler and person he is . Salutes to him for retiring at the right time .

  • colinham on December 23, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    How sad that people have to respond to the article, quite rightly a celebration of a superb international career, in a negative way. Thanks to a great technique Swann was far and away the top spinner in international cricket for a while following the Warne/Murali double act. He also had interests outside cricket (Andy Flower said at a dinner I attended that because of that he was more of a challenge to keep on the straight & narrow than KP!) and a sense of humour. A pity he won't be helping Notts to more trophies next year - but he has the right to go when he want.

  • on December 23, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    No doubt an impact player whose actual contribution is much more then what can be shown in stats .Will surly be missed by all who like to see real fighters in cricket

  • on December 23, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    this shows the English cricketers Charecter. if you are winning you want to be part of the team. if team is struggling humiliating defeat then you you cant take pressure.

    this is not the first time we are seeing this. First Trescothik,Michael Yardy, Trott and now Swann. i hav enever seen any other team players doing this.

  • AidanFX on December 23, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Good, honest and solid bowler. He played well for his country. I hate to be a cynic here... obviously the shoulder was bothering him, and the intensity of training for Test Cricket is too much, but though he finishes his Test career; you know he will feature internationally in 20/20 competitions for the next several years like other bowlers retiring about the 32-33 age (Lee, Malinga, Flintoff)... but this time it is a spinner rather than a paceman.

  • enthusiastic on December 23, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    One of the best in world cricket at this moment. Could have easily played a few more years. Sad to see him quit mid series but one needs to respect his decision. Well played Swann!

  • YorkshirePudding on December 23, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    @BHAGWAN-XI, In regards to Trott, in Hindsight he probably shouldnt have been on the tour full stop, but I would rather have him walk away than end up in the same situation Trescothick found himself, At least he has time to relax.

    If the plan was for Swann to retire at the end of the series, bringing it forward isnt much of a much, the series is lost so theres not much to play for, give a younger player a chance of settling, I suspect had the ashes still being to play for he would have stuck around and retired after sydney.

  • on December 23, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    Excellent spinner, one of the best around at this moment but very unfortunate to quit mid series. However we need to respect his decision.

  • on December 25, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    Graeme Swann would be remembered for some other reason. How many times he got a wicket in the first over of his spell? At once, England captain almost knew that the opposition would be one more down in the next over as i am gonna unleash swann ;) :p. Salutes man.

  • on December 25, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    A cricketer with such character! - Cricket will miss him; Thank You Swann for the entertainment

  • on December 23, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    What a great bowler and person he is . Salutes to him for retiring at the right time .

  • colinham on December 23, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    How sad that people have to respond to the article, quite rightly a celebration of a superb international career, in a negative way. Thanks to a great technique Swann was far and away the top spinner in international cricket for a while following the Warne/Murali double act. He also had interests outside cricket (Andy Flower said at a dinner I attended that because of that he was more of a challenge to keep on the straight & narrow than KP!) and a sense of humour. A pity he won't be helping Notts to more trophies next year - but he has the right to go when he want.

  • on December 23, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    No doubt an impact player whose actual contribution is much more then what can be shown in stats .Will surly be missed by all who like to see real fighters in cricket

  • on December 23, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    this shows the English cricketers Charecter. if you are winning you want to be part of the team. if team is struggling humiliating defeat then you you cant take pressure.

    this is not the first time we are seeing this. First Trescothik,Michael Yardy, Trott and now Swann. i hav enever seen any other team players doing this.

  • AidanFX on December 23, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Good, honest and solid bowler. He played well for his country. I hate to be a cynic here... obviously the shoulder was bothering him, and the intensity of training for Test Cricket is too much, but though he finishes his Test career; you know he will feature internationally in 20/20 competitions for the next several years like other bowlers retiring about the 32-33 age (Lee, Malinga, Flintoff)... but this time it is a spinner rather than a paceman.

  • enthusiastic on December 23, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    One of the best in world cricket at this moment. Could have easily played a few more years. Sad to see him quit mid series but one needs to respect his decision. Well played Swann!

  • YorkshirePudding on December 23, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    @BHAGWAN-XI, In regards to Trott, in Hindsight he probably shouldnt have been on the tour full stop, but I would rather have him walk away than end up in the same situation Trescothick found himself, At least he has time to relax.

    If the plan was for Swann to retire at the end of the series, bringing it forward isnt much of a much, the series is lost so theres not much to play for, give a younger player a chance of settling, I suspect had the ashes still being to play for he would have stuck around and retired after sydney.

  • on December 23, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    Excellent spinner, one of the best around at this moment but very unfortunate to quit mid series. However we need to respect his decision.

  • YorkshirePudding on December 23, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    @Dark_Harlequin, I expect you are correct I can see a few more heads rolling, though I'm not sure Anderson will leave just yet, though it cant be rulled out now his frontman has left.

    I'm not sure we can place all the blame on the coaches, but they are not immune, I suspect a lot of this is burnout, and not enough time recouperating between games, it sounds nice traveling the world playing cricket, but when you consider of the 30 Test England will have played between 1-Jan-2012 and the end of the Sydney test in Jan 2014 only 13 have been at home.

    The ECB realy needs to take some responsibility for the schedule, and fans need to stop whining when 'star' players are rested.

  • YorkshirePudding on December 23, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    It should come as no surpise that this has happened, Swann hasnt seemed to have had the same desire for the last year or two, and with a few exceptions (India, Lords 2013).

    In regarsd to a replacement, well I see they've called up Borthwick and Tredwell, two interesting choices, Borthwick is more of an Allrounder, while Tredwell is more a spear it in One day bowler.

    Id would like to see them invest a bit more in developing Briggs, Kerrigan and Rafiq but getting them into the EPP and Lions squads on a regular basis.

  • AlSmug on December 23, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    Well done on a reasonable career, but the fact Swann is seen as Englands best spin bowler of al time , just about sums it up for me ,he is half the bowler the likes of warne was,Australia have forged ahead overall on ashes wins and rightfully so , Australia have had more legends of the game to date than England. If Kerrigan is the next inline all i have to say is , it looks like another decade of dominance in stall , happy days :)

  • on December 23, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    He felt he had no more to offer, so he definitely did the right thing. Had we been in with a chance of retaining the Ashes I'm sure he's have continued. Why all of the criticism? He did a wonderful job for England and we should be extremely grateful to him in the way he went about him. Bah Humbug to you miserable people who say otherwise!

  • on December 23, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    He is one of the finest off-spinner in recent years! Wish you would continue for another 2-3 years, sad to see you go but you know best when say good bye. It was wonderful watching you bowling. Wish you good luck for life's 2nd innings.

  • BHAGWAN-XI on December 23, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    If swann had already decided before this series to quite the int'national cricket, but this is not the best time to quite, when you have to played for your team and they need you, you should played for till last game. First when trott gone it is also a very bad decision too, When a player selected for a big series he should give the faith to his captain, board and his nation. It is not good that you have lost a match and any body said something and your moral down. Now look to the captain cook, What can he do now when a players like trott and swann gone in mid series and he has already down shoulder in series and you have to give some confidence to him that we are with you, but they both players has very wrong decision, when you have a to stand with team when they needed.

  • warnerbasher on December 23, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    Hardly an example as a role model quitting during the middle of a tour. A fine spinner and competitor but in the end was found out when his historically well performed batsmen started failing and an average of close to 30 was exposed as not that great. Was fortunate to have home wickets tailor made for him but was good enough to take advantage. Lyon's final record will leave Swann in the shade however.

  • ArjunSp21 on December 23, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    Swann always bowled traditional offspinners..but as far as the results are concerned he was excellent..his patience while bowling was great..something the upcoming spinners has to look while playing a test match rather than using more variations..

  • jimbond on December 23, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    One of the few spinners around who dared to bowl in a half sleeved shirt, (unlike some modern day great spinners who need full-sleeved shirts to bowl spin- especially Doosras- this is not merely my observation but also Bishen Bedi's comment)

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 23, 2013, 4:23 GMT

    Whatever is happening to the Churchillian resolve? A key player knows there is not enough gas in the tank, but wants to come along because the opposition is supposedly easy pickings. And when that is not the case, after being thumped and dragged all over the park - he decides that someone else should enjoy the ride? Is it now Enjoy the Ride or Turn the Tide?? That can be done by someone else, - but at least have the grace to put it this way, not as a favour.

  • Thegimp on December 23, 2013, 4:19 GMT

    @Mitty2 Kerrigan did turn it mate, he turned it twice, once on the first bounce and the other on the second bounce before it got to the batsman!!!!

  • Clavers on December 22, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    @CodandChips overlooks the man who has comprehensively out-bowled Swann in the current series -- Nathan Lyon.

  • on December 22, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    He will be sorely missed. He had great skill, competitive instincts and the ability to make a match defining impact. But what England will miss perhaps more than any of those things is his spark and character. So often he took wickets early in his spells and gave the side an injection of momentum which has been one of the key elements in the team's success over the course of Swann's career. I don't see any of the current crop matching that capability. Panesar is a good bowler and the obvious replacement, but he doesn't have the same impact as Swann. England's spin prospects look quite bleak after Swann's retirement.

  • on December 22, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    England's best ever off-spinner! Just imagine what he would have been like to face on a drying wicket - Laker had it easy!

    Good luck Graeme and thanks for the memories.

  • milepost on December 22, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    Good player, good character. England will definitely miss him. I suspect a few more England careers will finish up this trip.

  • on December 22, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    one of the best servants of the game. will miss his slip catching and tail end clubbing. good bye swann. hope England can recover his loss.

  • Mitty2 on December 22, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    The only blemish on his career is his record vs SA and Aus and maybe India - although he redeemed that in the most recent series. As you said yourself George he's the best traditional off spinner seen for a long time, and his valuable batting and fielding just show how much he's given to the England cricket team. The stat that he has taken the most amount of wickets out of anyone in his first and only five years of playing is remarkable, although it might be inflated by how many tests England play (Anderson + Broad in this period have taken more wickets than Steyn at a much higher average). His strike rate is very very good considering he doesn't bowl on dustbowls and his average vs left handers is phenomenal. We all must congratulate him on a very good career.

    On the replacements, Kerrigan didn't turn it once in his test and looks to have quite a poor action, Panesar is in poor form and prefers the subcontinent and the only other one that comes to mind is the Pakistani bloke.

  • CodandChips on December 22, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    @markatnotts I considered it a quintet and included Yardy.

    I consider him the second best current (well, not any more) offspinner after Ajamal. England will also miss his slip catching and his "tail-end clubbing" as he likes to call it. Alas, no more Broad and Swann batting partnerships.

  • Clyde on December 22, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    Someone with the right attitude to the game. Perhaps his manner will be studied by those who would sustain the spirit of cricket and its appeal to spectators.

  • left_arm_unorthodox on December 22, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    I hope he gets behind the microphone. He'd be vastly more entertaining than most of the pundits out there. Maybe a blog on cricinfo, too?

  • Beertjie on December 22, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Full agree, GD, on Swann as the best offie since Laker. Like him, he took a few years to mature into a great offie, but he was more than that. As a package, he was one of the mvp's a team might have had. Bet a lot of test left-handed batsmen will breathe a sigh of relief now. Phil Hughes, for instance, could now safely make a comeback even in the middle order!

  • Harlequin. on December 22, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Lastly, he hasn't been the first casualty of this tour but he really shouldn't be the last either. If all the coaches keep their jobs but players like Trott, Swann and (dare I say it, because it feels possible now) Anderson, throw in the towel then it would be criminal.

  • Harlequin. on December 22, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    @You're_flawed&needimprovement - firstly, I often find Mr Dobell guilty of getting carried away sometimes, but here he is spot on. As he said, Swann was in the top 2 of the rankings in all 3 formats. As HenryPorter said, his strike rate was up there with the best. And as regular followers know, he often got top order wickets in the first over of his spell, delivering his captain exactly what he needed, when he needed it. To do all that makes him world class, to do all that without any tricks, just line, length and revs, makes him a rare breed.

    It's a sad day for cricket fans, the guy was a real personality of the game, captured brilliantly in his podcasts.

    I think the timing is right too, this has been a disastrous tour and the only way for anything good to come of it is to give youngsters experience of Ashes cricket.

  • Meety on December 22, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @Ken Mac - yeah I had thought that too. Looking at some of the press from Flower etc. == == == I am sad to see him go because I think he is the last player left in World Cricket that either says what he thinks or speaks before he thinks. Which made him seem more of real human than other robotrons. == == == Glad the article mentioned his slips & catching in general. That could take a very long time to replace.

  • markatnotts on December 22, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Very well said dunger.bob. I am very sad to see him go. His test record was outstanding and for a while he was outstanding in white ball cricket we well! Indeed one of a superb quartet of bowlers that did the most to win us the T20 world cup in 2010 (along with Sid, Broad, and Bresnan)!

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 22, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    only english media that hyped mediacore bowlers as a rare breed and world class.

  • dunger.bob on December 22, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    I'm stunned and just a bit saddened by this even though I'm an Aussie. He's been a fierce competitor and a total P.I.T.A for years now. I grew to respect his bowling and then I started to respect the man. .. I agree with GD that he's done the right thing by retiring immediately. If he knew it was over, it's better to pull the pin now and give England a 2 Test head start on the post-Swanny era. What's the point of him carrying on if his heart isn't in it? I think he might feel some responsibility for losing the series and doesn't want to make things worse by clinging on for 2 more games where he might help England lose 5-0. At least this way it's a clean, decisive cut and the poms can make definite plans from right now.

    Anyway, all the best Graeme and at least you can be home for Christmas and catch that band with your brother. All the best for the future and be proud of what you did in your career. I know I would be.

  • StJohn on December 22, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    Very sorry, and surprised, to see Swann go: a truly wonderful spinner. Thought he might have had another couple of years or more left in the tank, but you have to respect his decisiveness - given his enjoyment of Test cricket and playing for England, this isn't a decision that he took lightly. It's a real loss for English cricket, and a pity that he wasn't able to retire on a victorious note, but we have to be grateful for the years in the sun that Swann played a key part in providing. Watching Swann and Monty bowl in tandem in India last year was a real joy. Look forward to seeing Monty as England's lead spinner for a bit now.

  • on December 22, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    There are whispers that he was about to be dropped. At least this means Swann can go out with dignity. A fine cricketer.

  • HenryPorter on December 22, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    Yes, his away-from-home wickets were really significant, and taken at the truly special strike rate of 63, behind only Warne, Murali & Saeed Ajmal (among modern day spinners with >100 away wickets).

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  • HenryPorter on December 22, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    Yes, his away-from-home wickets were really significant, and taken at the truly special strike rate of 63, behind only Warne, Murali & Saeed Ajmal (among modern day spinners with >100 away wickets).

  • on December 22, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    There are whispers that he was about to be dropped. At least this means Swann can go out with dignity. A fine cricketer.

  • StJohn on December 22, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    Very sorry, and surprised, to see Swann go: a truly wonderful spinner. Thought he might have had another couple of years or more left in the tank, but you have to respect his decisiveness - given his enjoyment of Test cricket and playing for England, this isn't a decision that he took lightly. It's a real loss for English cricket, and a pity that he wasn't able to retire on a victorious note, but we have to be grateful for the years in the sun that Swann played a key part in providing. Watching Swann and Monty bowl in tandem in India last year was a real joy. Look forward to seeing Monty as England's lead spinner for a bit now.

  • dunger.bob on December 22, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    I'm stunned and just a bit saddened by this even though I'm an Aussie. He's been a fierce competitor and a total P.I.T.A for years now. I grew to respect his bowling and then I started to respect the man. .. I agree with GD that he's done the right thing by retiring immediately. If he knew it was over, it's better to pull the pin now and give England a 2 Test head start on the post-Swanny era. What's the point of him carrying on if his heart isn't in it? I think he might feel some responsibility for losing the series and doesn't want to make things worse by clinging on for 2 more games where he might help England lose 5-0. At least this way it's a clean, decisive cut and the poms can make definite plans from right now.

    Anyway, all the best Graeme and at least you can be home for Christmas and catch that band with your brother. All the best for the future and be proud of what you did in your career. I know I would be.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 22, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    only english media that hyped mediacore bowlers as a rare breed and world class.

  • markatnotts on December 22, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Very well said dunger.bob. I am very sad to see him go. His test record was outstanding and for a while he was outstanding in white ball cricket we well! Indeed one of a superb quartet of bowlers that did the most to win us the T20 world cup in 2010 (along with Sid, Broad, and Bresnan)!

  • Meety on December 22, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @Ken Mac - yeah I had thought that too. Looking at some of the press from Flower etc. == == == I am sad to see him go because I think he is the last player left in World Cricket that either says what he thinks or speaks before he thinks. Which made him seem more of real human than other robotrons. == == == Glad the article mentioned his slips & catching in general. That could take a very long time to replace.

  • Harlequin. on December 22, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    @You're_flawed&needimprovement - firstly, I often find Mr Dobell guilty of getting carried away sometimes, but here he is spot on. As he said, Swann was in the top 2 of the rankings in all 3 formats. As HenryPorter said, his strike rate was up there with the best. And as regular followers know, he often got top order wickets in the first over of his spell, delivering his captain exactly what he needed, when he needed it. To do all that makes him world class, to do all that without any tricks, just line, length and revs, makes him a rare breed.

    It's a sad day for cricket fans, the guy was a real personality of the game, captured brilliantly in his podcasts.

    I think the timing is right too, this has been a disastrous tour and the only way for anything good to come of it is to give youngsters experience of Ashes cricket.

  • Harlequin. on December 22, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Lastly, he hasn't been the first casualty of this tour but he really shouldn't be the last either. If all the coaches keep their jobs but players like Trott, Swann and (dare I say it, because it feels possible now) Anderson, throw in the towel then it would be criminal.

  • Beertjie on December 22, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Full agree, GD, on Swann as the best offie since Laker. Like him, he took a few years to mature into a great offie, but he was more than that. As a package, he was one of the mvp's a team might have had. Bet a lot of test left-handed batsmen will breathe a sigh of relief now. Phil Hughes, for instance, could now safely make a comeback even in the middle order!