Swann pays tribute to Northants after calling time on career

Graeme Swann
Graeme Swann

Graeme Swann paid tribute to Northants after calling time on his cricket career.

The England spinner, who started out at Wantage Road before leaving to join Nottinghamshire in 2004, has opted to quit the game with immediate effect.

The 34-year-old is currently part of the England squad taking part in the Ashes, with Australia holding an unassailable 3-0 series lead.

But he will play no further part Down Under and has decided to retire from all forms of the game for county and country.

And in his column in the Sun on Sunday, the former Sponne School pupil highlighted the contribution of Northants in helping him become one of England’s greatest spinners.

Swann wrote: “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, 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.”

Swann has only taken seven wickets during the current Ashes series.

And he said: “When I left home back in October I thought this might be my last tour for England. Then a couple of weeks ago, I looked in the mirror and I knew it would be.

“People always say that sportsmen instinctively know when the time is right to retire and I had that exact feeling during the Adelaide Test.

“So now with the series beyond our reach I have just brought forward the decision by a couple of matches.”

Swann’s career will stand comparison with England’s greatest, after 255 Test wickets - the most by any off-spinner in his country’s history.

He made a remarkable impact after his belated Test debut in 2008.

He was initially picked to tour South Africa back in 1999-2000 but England management were left questioning his attitude.

Second time around, though, things were different.

He took four wickets on debut against India in Chennai and was soon turning in match-winning performances, with a particular reputation for striking in his first over of a spell.

Swann retires as England’s sixth leading Test wicket-taker of all time, with 17 five-wicket hauls to his name.

He took three 10-wicket match hauls - against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and, earlier this year, New Zealand - and was involved in three Ashes series victories.

Of late though he has been troubled by an elbow injury, something which contributed to his decision.

“My right elbow hasn’t felt quite the same since I had a second operation earlier this year,” he said.

“The surgeon did an unbelievable job to get me back on the field but the joint struggles to cope when I bowl a lot.

“From day to day it feels great but when I’m into my 35th or 40th over, it’s not ideal.”

Swann played 79 one-day internationals, claiming 104 wickets and spending a spell as the top ranked ODI bowler in 2011.

He was also a part of England’s World Twenty20-winning team in 2010.