English cricket has been rocked with the news that Graeme Swann has retired with immediate effect.
The 34-year-old off-spinner who has only taken seven wickets during this winter’s disappointing Ashes series defeat for England will play no further part in the tour of Australia.
The spikes are well and truly being hung up for Swann who has taken 255 wickets in 60 Test matches at an average of 29.96.
Swann is the sixth highest wicket-taker for England, however, there will be no more sprinkler celebrations as the curtain comes down on a wonderful career.
The Northampton-born bowler said in a statement: “This decision has been very difficult seeing as the England team has been my family for seven years now, but I feel it is the right time,"
"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."
Swann first came onto the international scene in 1999-2000 when he was first named in an England squad but it wasn’t until 2008 in Chennai, India when he made his Test debut taking four wickets including becoming only the second cricketer in Test Cricket history to take two wickets in his first over.
His career for country may have started later than normal but he firmly established himself in the team and went on to win three Ashes Series including being part of the England team that reached number one in the rankings during 2011.
With Ashley Giles being England’s spinner for many years and the birth of Monty Panesar following that, chances were few and far between for Swann.
He continued to ply his trade with Nottingham in the County Championship and once Giles retired and Panesar struggled with some inconsistent form, his chance came and it was one he wasn’t prepared to miss.
With the Series down-under lost already, Swann obviously felt it was time for him to go, leaving Australian coach Darren Lehmann full of praise for him.
Lehamnn said to reporters: "It was a bit of a surprise. It's mid-tour - I don't know what's going on - but obviously he's decided he's had enough. "He's been a great cricketer for England over many years, I wish him all the best in retirement. He'll go home as one of the England greats."
Swann is part of an English era which has dominated the International arena over the last five years with some superb results.
Captain Alistair Cook and fellow players Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad and James Anderson have been permanent fixtures in the side unfortunately we may have entered the final farewell with many of them stars coming to the end of their careers.
Over the next few years there will be a lot of pieces departing the puzzle and it will be up to England selectors to rebuild and shape a new future for cricket.
Swann leaves the wicket with some wonderful memories and will no doubt go down as one of the best English spinners of all-time.
England have lost a great character and a brilliant bowler the time has now come to give the ball to a new person and spin them to victory.
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