22 Dec 2013

England bowler Graeme Swann retires from cricket

With the Ashes gone and an admission that his stamina might be in the same category, England spinner Graeme Swann decides to call it quits on his international and first-class cricket career.

Once touted as potentially England’s greatest spinner, Swann retired with 255 wickets from 60 tests. Critics might say he retired too soon, but Swann said it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision just four days ahead of the fourth Ashes test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground beginning Thursday.

“It’s quite simple. When I came out on this trip I half expected it to be my last tour for England,” Swann told a news conference in Melbourne.

“But with the Ashes gone now in those three test matches … I think to selfishly play just to experience another Boxing Day test match, a Sydney test match, would be wrong … wrong for the team … wrong for me.”

The 34-year-old Swann says age may have caught up with him.

“My body doesn’t like playing five-day cricket anymore and I don’t feel like I can justify my spot in the team in the last stages of a game,” Swann was quoted as saying.

“As a spinner, that’s when you need to come into your own. Me hanging around with a decision already made in my head wouldn’t be right.”

Swann said he struggled to tell England coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook of his decision on Saturday, and broke the news to the rest of the team on Sunday morning.

“It should have been a very easy conversation, but it actually made it doubly-hard just to sit down over a coffee and blurt it out,” Swann said.

After England lost the third test in Perth last week to give Australia an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, Swann was forced to apologize for making comments on Facebook in which he compared his team losing the Ashes series with rape. He said Sunday that incident was not the reason behind him deciding to retire.

Swann has had a terrible series by his own standards, taking just seven wickets for 560 runs in three lopsided losses. He struggled to adapt to the bouncy Australian pitches and the lack of sideways spin. He returned 1-92 in the second innings in steamy conditions in Perth last week after taking two key wickets in the first innings.

The England squad will miss Swann, who was distinguishable on the field because he bowled with his sunglasses on and collar turned up and who always challenged opposing batsmen to take him on.

At his news conference, Swann said he wanted to be remembered primarily as someone who loved playing the game.

“”t really annoys me when people out there take it for granted and get above their station … it’s the most privileged thing any man can do.”