Swann: Carrying on would be selfish

The Bolton News: Graeme Swann has called time on his England career Graeme Swann has called time on his England career

Graeme Swann is convinced he has made the right decision at the right time, to retire from all international and first-class cricket with immediate effect.

Swann did his soul-searching even before the Ashes were lost in Perth last week, and knew already he had to end his 15-year career - the last five as a cornerstone of England's triple Ashes-winning team.

The reason, the 34-year-old explained, is that once he knew for sure he was no longer effective in the second innings of Test matches - when his team-mates needed him most - it was simply "selfish" to carry on.

England's most successful off-spinner is leaving his post mid-series, but with the urn already gone thanks to Australia's unassailable 3-0 lead before Melbourne's centre-piece Boxing Day Test has even taken place.

Swann surpassed the great Jim Laker last year as national champion of his trade, in statistical terms of wickets taken, and finishes with 255 Test victims - behind only Derek Underwood in the all-time list of England spin bowlers.

Only seven of those wickets have come in this winter's Ashes, though, at a cost of 80 runs each, and that chastening experience left Swann in no doubt he had reached the end.

"It's quite simple," he said.

"When I came out on this trip, I half-expected it to be my last tour for England.

"I was desperate to win the Ashes out here again, like we did in 2010-11.

"But the Ashes have gone now after three Test matches, and I think to stay on and selfishly play just to experience another Boxing Day Test match would be wrong for the team and wrong for me.

"So it's time for someone else to strap themselves in and enjoy the ride, like I have."

Swann, who has had three operations on his bowling elbow - most recently 10 months ago, to try to prolong his career - concluded his continued involvement would merely be a hindrance as England seek to salvage some pride in Melbourne and Sydney.

"Me hanging around, with the decision already made in my head, wouldn't be right," he said.

"My body doesn't like playing long forms of cricket (any more).

"My arm doesn't cope very well with bowling 30 to 40 overs in the first innings and then repeating it in the second innings a day later.

"I'm not willing just to hang on and get by, being a bit-part player.

"I want to be a guy who wants to win matches for England and I don't feel I was doing that in the second innings any more.

"As a result, it is time to go."

Swann was especially frustrated that, at the very time he should be able to have most effect on a match, he was having very little.

"Towards the back end of a game, I don't feel like I can do the job I should be doing for England," he said.

"Therefore, it would be selfish of me to carry on."

He informed coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook on Saturday, and the rest of the squad on Sunday morning.

"Andy was very understanding," Swann said.

"We sat down, and he asked if I was 100 per cent sure, 1,000 per cent sure - and he kept checking to make sure I was doing the right thing.

"But once my mind was made up... I know I am making the decision for the right reasons.

"My body doesn't like playing five-day cricket any more, and I don't feel I can justify my spot in the team in the latter stages of a game.

"As a spinner, that's when you need to come into your own."

Swann is preparing himself for a tough adjustment to life outside the England team.

"I mulled it over, made sure the dust settled," he said.

"I kept asking myself whether I had made the right decision, kept going over it in my head, and kept coming back to the same thing - you are making the right decision.

"Andy was very understanding.

"It was quite emotional for both of us, because we have been on the journey together.

"He was the batting coach when I first started playing. He became head coach very early in my Test career, and we've been through a lot together.

"He is someone I am going to miss deeply."

Swann's conversation with Cook was another heart-felt one.

"It was very difficult talking to Cookie. He is one of my best mates.

"That made it doubly hard to sit down over a coffee and blurt it out."

He is confident, despite their Ashes struggles this winter, the players he leaves behind can help England get back on track.

"They've all been very supportive, and congratulated me on my career and wished me luck for the future.

"I wish them all the luck in the world. I'm an England fan, and I want to see England cricket number one in the world, winning Ashes series.

"I think the core of that team in the changing room are the guys to do it."

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