Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

Graeme Swann’s retirement: Pressure gets to one of the game’s most colourful characters?

Graeme Swann was England's strike bowler © Getty Images
Graeme Swann (above) is not the first player to retire mid-Ashes. Even Australia’s Damien Martyn called it quits during the 2006-06 Ashes © Getty Images

By Karthik Parimal


For Australian and English players, Ashes is the pinnacle of Test cricket. It’s their Holy Grail, for as kids they’d dream of donning the prized flannels and entering the elite list of cricketers to be a part of this sport’s oldest rivalry. The urn may be small, but it’s the most coveted trophy in the Test arena. As former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who revelled at the top for almost two decades, states, it’s where real legends are born and heroes are made. It’s where reputations can be cemented or ruined forever. One glance at the monumentality of the occasion gives us a fleeting idea of the kind of pressure the players often have to deal with.


Graeme Swann’s retirement, therefore, although surprising, shouldn’t have been totally unexpected considering what transpired in the past. Sportsmen, who intentionally or otherwise trek into limelight, are often subject to severe media scrutiny and, in cricket’s small pool, a few expressive characters easily stand out. While the issue they knowingly or unknowingly instigate may grab headlines for a few days before disappearing into obscurity, it tends to take a lot out of the player involved mentally, sometimes scarring him for good. The repercussions may not immediately be visible, but it eventually comes to the fore.


Swann is not the first player to retire mid-Ashes, and perhaps won’t be the last. In 2006-07 series, Australia’s Damien Martyn called it quits after just two Ashes Tests, during which his side usurped two wins. Martyn’s retirement took not just the cricketing fraternity, but even his own team-mates, by surprise. None of the players, including skipper Ponting, were aware of the batsman’s decision, and only an email sent to Cricket Australia’s James Sutherland — in which he announced he was retiring from all forms of cricket with immediate effect—was the form of communication employed. While Martyn’s impromptu decision must have rattled the Australian unit immediately, they did well to regroup and whitewash the English.


Martyn was relentlessly bashed by the media in the days leading up to his retirement. He was one of Australia’s most successful batsmen in their victorious ICC Champions Trophy campaign that year, but during the post-match presentation, he was involved in what turned out to be an international incident, as Sharad Pawar, then Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, was pushed off the dais by the Australian cricketers, and photographs depicted Martyn leading the callous incident. The fallout was that while the Australian team was, yet again, termed ‘ugly’, Martyn copped the brunt from the media. The scrutiny apparently ruffled him, and it’s said to be one of the chief reasons why he bid adieu to the sport, although one failed to comprehend its timing.


One other theory at the time claimed that Martyn quit because he was about to be dropped. A relatively new batsman in the form of Michael Clarke slammed a century in that second Ashes Test of 2006, whereas Martyn could muster just 11 and five in the two innings, which added to a string of poor scores in the longer format of the game. Despite Australia cruising towards reclaiming the urn, he felt he no longer could be a part of that grind and decided to hang his boots.


Swann, too, was at the receiving end of media’s fury a few days earlier. In response to his brother Alec’s status update about attending a concert on social networking site Facebook, Swann wrote: “Rather have been there than being a**e raped in Perth!” Almost immediately, he was chastised by certain sects of the media, with chief executive of Rape Crisis openly expressing his displeasure. The off-spinner has often been in the spotlight, but primarily for his dexterity on the field. Nonetheless, the last few weeks have no doubt been demanding, and he has rendered futile with the ball, too, bagging seven wickets in three Tests at an average of exactly 80. It remains unknown whether, like Martyn, the public scrutiny (which at times has gone beyond just the ‘Facebook’ case) got to Swann, compounded by the fact that England were headed down a slippery slope, or whether he too felt he’d be dropped sooner than later. Former Australian cricketer Dean Jones’ tweet, “Bat pad tells me that #Swann was going to be dropped for MCG #ashes #swannsong… Thanks @bowlologist”, suggests the latter.


What transpired behind those closed doors will perhaps never be made public, but just like it was with Martyn, cricket will be poorer with the exit of one of the game’s most colourful characters. One of the finest spinners in the world bids goodbye, and his contributions deserve rousing applause. Sitting on the sidelines, one can never fathom the kind of pressure the cricketers shoulder, especially in a series as big as the Ashes, and while some barely manage to withstand its wrath, some duly, but sadly, wilt under it.


Like the Australians of 2006, the current English unit will regret not having the chance to celebrate Swann’s career, to express gratitude for everything he’d done.


(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at


Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai


Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 41 runs

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Sri Lanka won by 6 wkts

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

England Women won by 9 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

India won by 6 wkts


Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play cricket


Video Highlights: Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders wickets

IPL 7: Vintage Jacques Kallis showed his class for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians

IPL 2014: Onus on Chris Gayle to take Royal Challengers Bangalore all the way

IPL 2014: Capacity crowd at UAE provides glimpse of the T20 league’s huge following

Narendra Modi’s tea-vendor origin influences MS Dhoni in calling laundrymen to clean up BCCI mess

Delhi Daredevils vs Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2014 Preview: RCB have advantage over DD sans Kevin Pietersen

Australia BCCI Delhi Daredevils England India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kolkata Knight Riders Lasith Malinga Moments in history Mumbai Indians Royal Challengers Bangalore Sachin Tendulkar

JP Duminy takes Delhi Daredevils to 145/4 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2014

Kings XI Punjab’s David Miller hopeful of winning IPL 2014

Delhi Daredevils (DD) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), IPL 2014: JP Duminy reaches half-century

Sunrisers Hyderabad announce Spicejet as their IPL 2014 sponsor

Delhi Daredevils (DD) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), IPL 2014: Ross Taylor, JP Duminy hold fort Delhi Daredevils

Former Australia PM Robert Menzies used cricket to win a case as a lawyer

Naoomal Jaoomal: The man who opened batting in India’s first ever Test

Sony launches ‘IPL Smart Earphone’ to filter crap commentary; calls endeavour CSR

IPL Statistics and Records: IPL’s First

IPL 2014: Umpire Camera View creates latest buzz in tournament

Fan of the Day

Sudatta Mukherjee

Sudatta Mukherjee

1 Posts | 0 Fans

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014 Video Highlights

After Salman Khan and Aamir Khan being angry with AAP, Anurag Kashyap upset with BJP!

Google Glass could soon assist surgeons

Suffer from hemophilia and planning to conceive?

Nokia Lumia 2520 sales suspended due to issue with faulty charger

Kidney damage in diabetics — causes, symptoms, treatment, complications and prevention

Delhi Daredevils (DD) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), IPL 2014: Ross Taylor, JP Duminy steady Delhi Daredevils

Sonakshi Sinha, Karisma Kapoor and Malaika Arora attend Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s 2 States special screening – View pics!

Naoomal Jaoomal: The man who opened batting in India’s first ever Test

Also on