As if a quick series loss, astonishingly easy from Australia’s viewpoint, was not enough for England, the sudden news about Graeme Swann’s mid-series retirement comes as a complete shocker. In a statement made yesterday, the 34-year old Swann said he was retiring from first-class and international cricket with immediate effect. Until recently, Graeme Swann was rated as a top-quality off-spinner, who foxed many batsmen, around the world, with his personal brand of spin-bowling. However, in the Ashes Series, thus far, Swann has largely been ineffective and could only manage 7 wickets for 80 runs in the three test matches. But going by the result of the three test matches, Swann should not consider himself as the only English cricketer, who has failed to create any impact in the series so far.
The third Ashes test at the WACA was Swann’s 60th test match, at the end of which his international tally stood at 255 wickets at an average of 29.96. In terms of wickets taken, Swann’s tally of career wickets is exceeded only by Derek Underwood, who had 297 Test wickets under his name. Nicknamed Chin, Swann made his test debut against India in the second test at Chennai in December 2008. India registered a victory against England in this match despite a 75-run first innings deficit, while Swann’s match figures of 4/145 could not have been considered as impressive. But as time went by, Swann kept improving. He cemented his place in the England team during the Ashes series at home in 2009, which England won 2-1. On 17 occasions, Swann took 5 or more wickets in an innings and three times he took 10 wickets in a match. He 2009, Swann became the first English spinner to take 50 wickets in a calendar year. His performance against South Africa in 2009 was especially memorable, as he received man-of-the-match awards in the first and second test played in South Africa in late 2009. In May 2010, Swann was named as ECB’s cricketer of the year. He also excelled in the ODI games for England and between July-October 2011, he was ICC’s top-ranked ODI bowler. In all, Swann played 79 one-day internationals and took 104 wickets. He also represented England in 39 T20 matches and took 51 wickets. Post his retirement, Swann has not ruled out the possibility of playing in the Indian Premier League in 2014.
Swann apparently made up his mind during the practice sessions in Melbourne in the last few days. The team has been training ahead of the fourth test beginning at the MCG on the Boxing Day. During one such session, he informed Coach Andy Flower and his team-mates of his decision. He wrote in his regular column in the Sun that he had come to Australia with the hope of helping England win the fourth consecutive Ashes Series. But since that is ruled out, he thinks it is time someone else took the baton from him.
For Swann, a bad moment came during the third test at Perth, when Shane Watson treated him like an amateur bowler and in just 13 balls from Swann, Watson plundered 37 runs. This was the worst treatment in tests that England’s premier spinner was ever meted. Other than the unimpressive bowling spells in the first three tests, Graeme Swann also figured in a needless controversy for non-cricketing reasons. He used the social media site Facebook and while posting a comment to his brother Alec Swann, he wrote that England’s defeat by Australia at Perth was akin to being raped. It highlights the power of social media in modern times since Swann’s remark on his brother’s Facebook page spread like a wildfire. There were strong public and media condemnations forcing Graeme Swann to apologize immediately. He admitted that his remarks were in bad taste and thoughtless. In issuing the apology, Swann used another social media channel Twitter and said he was truly sorry to anyone who had been offended by the Facebook posting. The ECB also confirmed that they will not take any action against Swann since he has already made the apology.