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Graeme Swann’s retirement can mark the beginning of a rebuilding phase for England

With Graeme Swann's retirement, England now has to look towards rebuilding their Test squad © Getty Images
Alastair Cook’s (left) leadership skills will be tested as England head into a rebuilding phase © Getty Images


England’s ace spinner and one of their mainstays on the field, Graeme Swann retired from international cricket amid the Ashes 2013-14. While his retirement further depletes England, it also marks the beginning of the rebuilding phase for the side. Devarchit Varma has more…


Graeme Swann’s retirement amid a series as important as the Ashes 2013-14 has put England in further trouble. A side that has slipped considerably in the past couple of weeks now finds itself under more pressure with two of their main players out of action. After Jonathan Trott pulled out after the first Test, which came as a body blow to England, Swann’s retirement has thrown the former world No 1 side in a phase where they will have to rebuild and bounce back.


With many of their frontline players in 30s, England have to start sometime soon thinking about the next generation of players who will replace an immensely successful bunch. But the sudden retirement of Swann and Trott’s pullout shocked not only the cricket fraternity and the English camp, but it has also put them in a situation which cannot be dealt easily.


While the form of some of the top England batsmen wasn’t helping the team’s cause Down Under, the comments made by Swann immediately after his retirement would have added more pressure on skipper Alastair Cook to hold his side together in adverse times. It is believed that Swann, who had expressed his reservations against Kevin Pietersen in his book, hit out at the swashbuckling batsman once again. Even though Swann has clarified that he wasn’t pointing out Pietersen in his comments, but it seems like much water has flown under the bridge. Whether Swann actually hit out at Pietersen or not, the incident further establishes the fact that some players did not enjoy working with Pietersen.


Pietersen is indeed facing the toughest phase of his career. He has been under intense scrutiny from fans and cricket experts, and there are talks surrounding his retirement as well, keeping the form and fitness in mind. He is 33-years old and is struggling with fitness and form. The maverick cricketer hasn’t been scoring as freely as he has been throughout his career, and with his intent being questioned, Pietersen has an uphill task in his hand.


Matt Prior is likely to be the first person who will face the aftermath of the Ashes debacle Down Under. A handy batsman, who plays a significant role in the English camp, both on and off the field, is going through a bad phase. After a poor outing so far in Australia, he might have to make way for the young Jonny Bairstow in the fourth Test at Melbourne, and if that happens, the 31-year-old will have to fight his way back into the English side.


The much-revered England pace battery too is going through a slump, and the selectors will be forced to look into this department as well after the poor show by their bowlers against Australia. Only one England bowler, Stuart Broad, could make some impact in an otherwise forgettable trip Down Under.


The future of England’s coach Andy Flower remains uncertain, and the 45-year-old has refused commenting on it. “We have two Tests and I am hungry to do well in those games. That is as far as I am looking at the moment,” Flower told Reuters after the end of the third Test at Perth. Flower, the architect of England’s rise in international cricket and them becoming the No 1 Test side in 2011, is the most important person in the England dressing room and it will do them a world of good if he decides to continue. A new coach would take time to settle in and find the right working partnership with Cook, which will only result in delaying things for England.


Cook faces the toughest time in his captaincy stint, as after a successful start, everything seems to be falling apart and his leadership skills will be tested as England begin the rebuilding phase.


(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

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