Graeme Swann has insisted he did the right thing quitting midway through England’s 5-0 Ashes series thrashing despite Graham Gooch calling the decision “criminal”.
England great Gooch, the team’s batting coach on their woeful 2013/14 tour of Australia, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph on Wednesday that the former off-spinner’s decision had been highly damaging to the team.
“It made us a laughing stock,” said Gooch, one of England’s most successful opening batsmen. “I cannot understand why he couldn’t stick it out until the end of the trip. It left a bad taste.”
Swann quit, with England 3-0 down, in December 2013 after deciding a longstanding elbow injury meant it was no longer possible for him to spin the ball properly.
“I understand (what he is saying),” Swann told several British newspapers. “Goochy is very old school.
“Perhaps if he had gained my perspective on it he might have seen the reasons why I did it. I think he is a bit misinformed thinking I just left because of form. It wasn’t because of form.
“It was because I just couldn’t turn a cricket ball, which, as a spin bowler, means you are useless to your team. It wasn’t a form thing, it was succumbing to the inevitable.”
Australia tour regret
Swann added he had made a mistake in not retiring after England’s 3-0 home Ashes win in 2013.
“In retrospect, I shouldn’t have gone on the tour at all,” he said. “That is my regret.
“I wish after the Oval I had read the signs more rather than just think, ‘I will be fine. Jim (Anderson) will get 30 wickets. I will only have to hold one end up. I will be fine and we will win the Ashes’. That is my only regret.”
Swann, speaking at an event in London’s Olympic Park where he announced his intention to drive a Ford Fiesta ST in Wales Rally GB, the British round of the World Rally Championship, next month, was also criticised for his decision to quit by Kevin Pietersen in the latter’s controversial autobiography, which has prompted wave upon wave of reaction.
For his part, Swann has dismissed Pietersen’s recently-published book as the “the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne”.
He also suggested Thursday that a lot of bitterness would have been avoided had the England and Wales Cricket Board simply sacked Pietersen for straight-out form reasons rather than the vague explanation they relied on to ditch the South Africa-born batsman.
“Maybe,” he said. “There might have been a cleaner way of doing things and there would certainly have been a lot less blood-letting. “I think Martin Crowe (the former New Zealand captain and one of the outstanding batsman of his generation) wrote an excellent article on Cricinfo. It summed up what a lot of people think.”
Crowe described Pietersen as an “insecure kid who never grew up”, arguing his sacking came too late with his form fading as his attention turned to the Indian Premier League.
He also cited how Pietersen’s form fell away after he scored 15 hundreds in his first 45 Tests, when averaging just over 50.
“From 2009 on, in his next 59 Tests he scored just eight centuries,” Crowe said, “fell for seven ducks, the average at a modern-day adequate 44, including a mandatory dine-out against Bangladesh, and propped up by six scores above 148.
Far too many misses in between for a man in his prime.”
Asked if he agreed with Crowe’s analysis of Pietersen’s decline, Swann said: “You know me, I have never been a stats fan but the stats seem to suggest that.”