Will Graeme Swann ever play for England again?

 

Dunedin

These are harrowing times for Graeme Swann. He officially left the England team today, his tour of New Zealand cut short by a chronic elbow injury which worsened dramatically almost overnight. There is no certainty that he will return.

The sanctioned prognosis is optimistic. Swann, the most prodigious of all English off-spin bowlers, will have surgery in the US shortly and is expected to return to cricket early in the summer. It is intended that he play in the Champions Trophy in England in June and, if not, then in the two Ashes series which follow in this epic year for English cricket. He was bullish enough to suggest that he might, who knows, make the home Test series against New Zealand, since they are one of only two countries against which he has not played a Test, the other being Zimbabwe.

Swann, indeed, was in characteristic mood in describing the injury, the surgery and the rehabilitation. After the opening day of England's Test series against New Zealand was washed out without a ball bowled, he talked of being confined to the attic at home like some latter-day Bertha Rochester and not allowed out until the whole thing was done, with his two-year-old Wilf running about downstairs.

But between the lines there was plenty worrying him, above all that his career, which burgeoned late and then entered the stratosphere where it has remained for four years, may be over. It would be damnably cruel for him and English cricket and maybe its dreams of a triumphant march to glory in 2013. Swann has already had one operation on the elbow soon after he broke into the England team.

Since then, as he revealed: "I have struggled intermittently with the elbow for about four years, but it never really manifested itself into a dire predicament for me. Then at Queenstown the other day just before the game I was starting to feel an unusual pain that I hadn't felt since before the last operation. That just rapidly got worse during that game."

The results of scans he had when the squad reached Dunedin were sent to Professor Shawn W O'Driscoll at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and he immediately advised further surgery. This seems to be of a routine nature. Swann talked of the elbow being cleaned out, with floating bone fragments removed as if it were a carpet being cleaned.

But the fact that O'Driscoll, acknowledged as the world's leading authority on dodgy elbows and shoulders in athletes from javelin throwers to baseball pitchers, advised immediate surgery implies that the sort of stuff floating about near the surface of Swann's elbow is more often seen in the murky depths of oceans.

Swann is a deeply reluctant visitor to the surgeon's table. He had hoped, he said, to go through the rest of his career without going under the knife again. "I will be relieved once it is done but I am a bit apprehensive at the minute because I don't like general anaesthetics," he said.

England chose not to divulge how serious the pain was, which may show how serious it is. On the eve of the match, their captain, Alastair Cook, had said he expected to pick the side from a full squad. But by then Swann had already been examined and O'Driscoll was called in.

Only at the toss this morning – which Cook lost, allowing the Kiwis to choose to bowl – did it emerge that Swann would not play any part in the match or the series. Monty Panesar replaced him in the starting XI for the match and James Tredwell of Kent is flying out to join the squad.

Swann at least has complete trust in O'Driscoll, a Canadian who studied in Wales for three years in the early 1970s. O'Driscoll carried out the recent surgery on the England fast bowler Tim Bresnan's troublesome elbow.

"It doesn't seem anywhere near as dire as the last time round when it was like a bomb had gone off in there," said Swann. "I'm not going to say I will be back but I am very buoyed by the success of the last operation I had and I've got every faith in the surgeon because he's the world leader in it."

Swann has taken 208 Test wickets for England since making a belated debut four months short of his 30th birthday. Never was he better than in India late last year when he took 20 wickets in the four-match series at 24.75 runs each and displayed craftiness, guile and the ability to spin the ball. The snap, he said, dramatically disappeared in Queenstown last weekend, which is mildly ironic since it is the adventure sports capital of the world.

Swann will be 34 in a few days and he will spend his birthday and the weeks beyond wondering if the snap will ever return.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect