Graeme Swann’s untimely decision yesterday to bring an immediate end to a distinguished international career was profoundly embarrassing for English cricket. It threw into further disarray a tour of Australia which has been little short of disastrous from start to middle. The finish hardly bears thinking about.
With England having already lost the Ashes, Swann made it clear that he no longer felt capable of performing at the required level. The tourists are 3-0 down with two Tests remaining and the dressing room is in chaos.
Coming only three months after Swann signed a lucrative central contract for a year, his announcement made nonsense of the structures supposedly put in place to ensure a seamless transition from generation to generation. Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, who is in overall charge of the policy, made no comment yesterday.
Swann decided to quit immediately after a series in which he has taken only seven wickets at 80 runs each, which followed his 26 wickets at 29.04 in the corresponding series last summer. Australia have targeted him mercilessly and his last over in the third Test in Perth was hit for 22 runs.
Nothing should detract from Swann’s contribution to England’s recent success before this trip. In the five years since his Test career began when he was approaching 30, he has taken 255 wickets, more than any other bowler in the world.
Swann said his right elbow, twice operated on, was reducing his effectiveness. “If I did carry on it would be purely selfish because at the back-end of a game my elbow lets me down completely,” he said.
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