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“It’s time for someone else to buckle in and enjoy the ride”
Just as if things couldn’t get any worse for England after they lost the Ashes for the first time in five years, off-spinner Graeme Swann stunned the cricketing world by announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket effective immediately.
Swann will not play in the final two Test matches.
The 34-year-old represented England in 60 Test matches and took 255 wickets at a brilliant average of 29.96.
However, he has struggled in the ongoing Ashes series, taking seven wickets at a dismal average of 80.
“I came to Australia in the hope of winning our fourth Ashes series on the trot but that’s now impossible,” Swann wrote in his column for The Sun. “So it’s time for someone else to buckle in and enjoy the ride.
“I could have made myself available for the last two Tests and maybe had a bit of a send-off from the Barmy Army. But that’s no reason to hang on for two more games. I like to be the centre of attention — but for the right reason by winning games of cricket.”
Swann broke the news to his team-mates and head coach Andy Flower at a practice session in Melbourne.
Swann will leave the game as England’s second-leading spinner behind the legendary Derek Underwood, who took 297 Test wickets.
“I hoped that form and fitness might allow me a crack at Underwood’s record but that pales into insignificance after losing the Ashes,” Swann said. “If I carried on playing just to try to beat individual records, I’d have become the kind of player I have always hated.”
In an official statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Swann stated that he had no regrets about anything.
“This decision has been very difficult seeing as the England team has been my family for seven years now, but I feel that now is the right time to step down,” Swann said. “I don’t regret a single day of my career. Every high has been celebrated with verve and vigour and every low painfully accepted as a chance to learn and improve.
“My personal highlights include the three Ashes victories, of which I will cherish for the rest of my life, and the World T20 victory in the West Indies which ranks as my limited overs highlight. I have met, played with and against, and become friends with some magnificent people throughout my journey and feel truly privileged to have been given these opportunities.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to both Northamptonshire County Cricket Club for giving me my grounding in the game and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club for turning me into the cricketer I wanted to be. Two Championship titles and my maiden one day final victory with the Outlaws are also achievements of which I am immensely proud.
“With two games to go in Australia and then a fiercely competitive summer against Sri Lanka and India I feel that it is a great time for someone else to strap themselves in and hopefully enjoy the ride as much as I have.
“Finally I’d like to thank all my England team mates for their non-stop support and camaraderie and of course wish Andy Flower and Alastair Cook all the success in the world for the future. First and foremost I am a fervent England fan at heart.”
Speaking about Swann’s decision to retire, Flower said: “Graeme Swann has made an outstanding contribution to the England cricket team in all formats throughout an incredibly successful career and I would like to congratulate him on all that he has achieved. His commitment, competitive spirit and sense of humour have been recognised and admired by team mates and supporters alike and he has played a big part in England’s success over the last five years. The dressing room will be a very different place without Graeme’s unique personality and I would like to wish him all the very best for the future.”