Graeme Swann retired from all cricket today, with immediate effect. He may not have been selected for the next test match, but I think he probably would have been. Either way, he didn’t want to hang around to find out.
He made his test debut aged nearly 30, and like Mike Hussey was a late bloomer at the top level. No one has taken more wickets (255) in the past four years. He rose to be the number one spinner in the world, number two test bowler and number one ranked one day bowler. He won 30 test matches (exactly half those he played), three back to back Ashes series, a 2020 World Cup and saw his team rise to number one ranked team in all formats of the game in 2011.
Not bad for someone who played the game with a smile and seemed to be as normal a guy as you might see in an elite sport. He had a larrikin nature and a natural style in front of the camera (a successful career in media surely follows).
His contribution was multifaceted: he could tie up an end allowing three quicks to rotate at the other end, he could spin his side to victory, bamboozle left handers, take blinding catches in the slips and score useful lower order runs at a fair clip. He lifted team spirits in the dressing room. He was an important part of a very good England team, and will be a difficult person to replace.
The photo above was taken last Sunday afternoon as the Aussie batsmen were putting England to the sword. Swann was bowling with some zip and kept Warner relatively quiet, then taking his wicket. He was fielding near me on the boundary and some Aussie fans ripped into him – he smiled and engaged them in some light hearted banter.
“Swanny, why aren’t you bowling? You might take a wicket!”
(Swann pointing to the scoreboard): “Hey, I took one! Can someone teach this guy to read?!”
“Hey Swanny, wanna come to a party tonight?”
“With you? You’re all guys… No thanks!”
A few overs later someone called out “How’s the tour going Swanny?” to which Graeme shook his flat palm a few times as if to say “It’s touch and go!”.
It was mid way through this test he decided it was time to up stumps.