Fury as Swann quits, but did he really attack his team-mates?
England spinner follows Jonathan Trott out of Ashes tour, as England disintegrate
ENGLAND spinner Graeme Swann's decision to retire midway thought a shambolic Ashes tour of Australia only adds to sense of chaos surrounding the team. And comments made at his press conference have been seized upon by the media, both traditional and social, as proof of the divisions within the England dressing room as the side lurches from one catastrophe to another.
The tour has been a disaster. After an insufficient number of warm-up fixtures against sub-standard opposition, an unsually disorganised England were soundly beaten in the first Test. Then Jonathan Trott flew home with a stress-related illness. In Adelaide Mitchell Johnson tore through the demoralised batting line-up and the familiar pattern continued in the third Test in Perth as England surrendered the urn.
Now Swann has followed Trott out of the tour. "It means that England have lost two linchpins before the series is out," says Mike Selvey of The Guardian, who states that if England were still in the series then Swann would still be in the game.
However, his exit leaves England in an even bigger hole than Trott's did. "Swann is as near to irreplaceable - as a spinner, lower-order batsman of proper nuisance value and top-class slip fielder - as a cricketer can get," he says.
And the tourists are in disarray. "If anybody doubted that this England team has been well and truly broken by Australia, they must surely accept it now," writes David Hopps of Cricinfo.
To make matters worse, Swann's comments at his press conference have been seized upon as an attack on his own team. He claimed that some people in the game were up their "own backsides" as he explained his reasons to quit.
"Graeme Swann walked away from English cricket on Sunday, attacking the attitude of some of the players he leaves behind," claims the Daily Mail.
Some have gone further. "Swann refused to name those he had in mind, but if he was referring to his own team, it is well known that he and Kevin Pietersen do not send each other Christmas cards," writes Derek Pringle in the Daily Telegraph.
It was all too much for some people, including Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld and former England captain Michael Vaughan.
Graham Swann is out of his mind. To retire midway thro an Ashes series is staggeringly selfish. Then to slag off his teammates is dreadful.
— Henry Blofeld (@blowersh) December 23, 2013
This tour for England was already a disaster.... Now it's a bloody joke...
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) December 22, 2013
However, former England captain Mike Atherton calls for calm in The Times. There was no "bitter rant" from Swann, he says, the tone of his press conference was "warm, effusive, elegiac at times, occasionally funny".
He points out that Swann may not have been referring to anyone in the England camp. However, in a separate piece, he accepts that Swann's exit means England fans have been left not only reflecting on "the end of a wonderful career, but also on a trip that has gone, is going, horribly wrong, and on the end of an era for English cricket". ·