Graeme Swann will be missing from cricket until the early summer after being withdrawn from England's team for the first Test against New Zealand in Dunedin today. He will fly to the United States next week for surgery on his troublesome right elbow in the hope that he will be fit in time for the Champions Trophy in June and the Ashes series which starts in July.
Swann, England's leading off-spin bowler of all time, has already had one operation on the injury four years ago but it has flared up again recently. England were optimistic that he would be fit enough to play in this series against New Zealand but when the teams were named at the toss this morning he was replaced by Monty Panesar.
No play was possible before lunch on the opening morning because of a combination of bad light and heavy rain. New Zealand won the toss and opted to bowl.
Swann's chronic injury is a cause for huge concern for England which is why they have taken the dramatic step for him to have more surgery. Earlier this week, England's coach, Andy Flower, was gloomy about the elbow's condition. "I'm always concerned about it," he said. "I have been for four years since he had the operation on it. He is a quality performer who has been very much part of any success we have had recently. So it's always a bit of a concern and he's not getting any younger. We hope he will get through the rest of his career without having an operation."
That turned out to be inadvisable after Swann, 33, went for a scan in Dunedin this morning. James Tredwell, the Kent off spinner, is flying out to replace Swann in the squad.