Swann - It's the right time to quit
Graeme Swann set aside emotion to end his international career in the middle of the Ashes, for what he insists are the right reasons.
Swann came to the uncomfortable conclusion, even as England were subsiding to defeat against Australia, that he could best serve them by retiring at the age of 34 - because he was no longer capable of making the impact required and expected of him.
He will therefore play no part in the final two Tests, as England seek to salvage some pride in Melbourne and Sydney.
Swann was a part of three landslide defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth - and along the way, it dawned on him he was a spent force.
After three operations on his bowling elbow, he was powerless to stop Australia dominating England at every turn.
That was enough to convince him, even with an English off-spinner's record 255 wickets in his 60 Tests, he had no choice but to call time.
"This is very emotional - because it's the end of everything I've known, everything I've loved," he said, factoring in both his international and county allegiance.
"It's not just England. In February I'm going to have to go to Trent Bridge and clear my locker out ... I know that'll choke me up."
Swann can hardly believe he has risen to the heights he has, as a triple Ashes-winner and with a status among England's most prolific spin-bowling wicket-takers above Jim Laker and second only to left-armer Derek Underwood.
"I'm incredibly proud of what I've achieved," he added.
"I still think there has been some mystical force that has helped me along the way - because surely it is not as easy as that."
There were unpromising beginnings, when at the age of 20 Swann's precocious talent was cast aside after a failure to gel with the regime of Duncan Fletcher - and it was only eight years later that he was granted a second chance to add to a solitary one-day international cap.
"I can scarcely believe it," Swann said.
"If someone could have placed me here back then and said 'What do you think you would be bowing out with?', I'd have said 30 Test wickets and 50 in one-dayers - with a handful more missing-the-bus tour antics.
"I feel like a lottery winner; I feel ridiculous."
Swann takes issue with quibbles about the timing of his retirement, with the Ashes gone but England needing to limit the damage of series defeat.
"There will be people who say that, because there are people who pick fault with everything," he added.
"But to carry on playing would be completely the wrong thing ... if you are playing for the wrong reasons you are not helping anybody.
"If I played in this Boxing Day Test and the Sydney Test, it would be to experience another Boxing Day Test and Sydney Test and go out waving to the 'Barmy Army' as I walked off.
"That sort of player doesn't deserve to be in the team.
"You don't build teams around guys like that.
"If I did carry on it would be purely selfish, because at the back end of a game my elbow lets me down completely."
Swann began to sense the end was nigh, even as he was leading the way for England in their 3-0 home win over Australia four months ago.
"I took 26 wickets in the Ashes last summer - but truth be told, I don't think I bowled that well.
"At the back end of the Trent Bridge Test, I could hardly spin a ball on a five-day-old pitch.
"I just knew deep down I wasn't the bowler I was a couple of years ago.
"I've had to be on the defensive in three games (here), but I've had to be on the defensive in probably 20 out of my 60 Test matches and I've always thrived on it.
"I haven't enjoyed doing it this time round, because I've felt like I've had one arm tied behind my back."
If Swann plays cricket again, it will be on his own terms.
He has yet to rule out a lucrative stint in the Indian Premier League, but at this stage appears to be favouring a lowlier but perhaps more fulfilling standard.
"I hope I will play games of cricket again and enjoy them, and I hope they're alongside my little boy for Caythorpe Sunday 2nds when he's about 15 or something, just showing him the ropes.
"If Wilf gets into cricket and there's a chance to play with my boy at some point, then I'll enjoy that."
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