SYDNEY: Graeme Swann shocked the cricket world Sunday by announcing his immediate retirement mid-way through the already doomed series with Australia, sending social media into a frenzy over the timing of the decision.
The 34-year-old off-spinner claimed 255 wickets in 60 Tests in just five years and is sixth on the all-time list of Test wicket-takers for England. England won half the Tests in which he played.
Swann claimed 17 five-wicket hauls in Tests and three times took 10 wickets in a match.
He effectively spearheaded England to an Ashes victory in the previous series earlier this year with his haul of 26 wickets.
But troubled by a chronic elbow condition, Swann knew his time was up on the unresponsive Australian pitches.
He had been under pressure to retain his place in the squad after taking just seven wickets at an average of 80.00 in the first three Tests in Australia.
Swann always played cricket with a smile and was a much-loved figure within the English team. He triggered an Internet sensation by highlighting the England players' victory jig known as "The Sprinkler" during the 2010-11 Ashes series victory in Australia on his web diary.
But he also ran into trouble occasionally. Last week he was forced to apologise for what he called a ‘crass and offensive’ comment after he compared the third Ashes Test loss to Australia to being ‘raped’.
Tributes flow following Swann’s shock exit
Tributes flowed for the England spinner after his bombshell retirement.
“I don’t know what to say, I thought he’d bowled OK in the series, just without luck I guess,” said Australian fast-bowler Ryan Harris.
“Something’s obviously not quite right with him, or he’s fulfilled whatever he wanted to do, but to me that’s a huge shock.”
Australia Spinner Nathan Lyon said he had been ‘pretty shocked’ by the news.
“He’s someone who I’ve looked up to a lot,” said Lyon.
England teammates took to Twitter to bid farewell to a player they described as one of the greats.
“Congrats Swann on brilliant career will miss playing with the fellow twin,” wrote Monty Panesar.
Tim Bresnan offered his “huge congratulations on a great career in cricket” and said he would miss the jovial and popular Swann’s “constant putdowns and abuse of my mental capacity”.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan said he believed it was ‘too soon’ for Swann to call it a day, describing him as “finger spin out of the top draw”.
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