Graeme Peter Swann
March 24, 1979, Northampton
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Sponne School, Towcester
Graeme Swann was a wonderfully adaptable spinner, attuned when necessary to a defensive role to allow the quicks time to rest, and also blessed with the ability to dip and turn the ball markedly. He was also one of England's great character cricketers, refreshingly individualistic on and off the field.
In 60 Tests in almost exactly five years, Swann took 255 wickets at a touch under 30 runs apiece, exceeding anyone else in Test cricket in that period, including James Anderson (232 wickets), Stuart Broad (207) and Dale Steyn (205). He retired as England's sixth-highest wicket-taker, the leading offspinner, and second among all England slow bowlers only to Derek Underwood (297).
Swann had cunning, flight and turn, which made up for his lack of a doosra. He was also helped by a striking number of left-hand batters in the game during his time, and increased use of technology that made it more likely that umpires would uphold lbw appeals. Of his 255 wickets, 70 were lbw, compared to the other great England offpinner Jim Laker's 32 from 193; 122 of Swann's wickets were of left-handers, whereas Laker only had 29.
Although he made his international debut as a 20-year-old in an ODI in 2000, Swann only made his mark for England on his Test debut, in Chennai in 2008, taking two wickets in his first over. Within a few months he had usurped Monty Panesar as England's premier spinner, a position he would not relinquish for the rest of his career.
He soon became a match-winner at Test level, and an important part of the ODI and T20I sides. Swann played a key role in the 2009 Ashes wins at Lord's and The Oval, and contributed incisive spells in Durban, Chittagong, Adelaide, Colombo, against Pakistan at Edgbaston and Lord's, against Sri Lanka in Cardiff, and against India at The Oval.
During the 2012 home season, his career hit a blip, but the following winter he helped England to a historic series win in India. Panesar and he claimed 19 of the 20 wickets to fall in the great win in Mumbai, representing one of the greatest spin-bowling double acts in England's Test history.
Early in 2013, Swann underwent surgery for a long-standing elbow problem, but he was back for that summer's Ashes, taking 26 wickets without ever being at his best. He would not last the return series in Australia, where he managed only seven wickets at 80 in three Tests and then, with the series lost, announced his retirement before the Boxing Day Test. He admitted later that he felt "horrendous" about quitting during the series, but on his career as a whole, he was in no doubt. "I feel like a lottery winner," he said.
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