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Out of the blue, Swann quits

Calcutta/Melbourne: England spinner Graeme Swann has announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket midway through the Ashes, after being put to the sword by Australia’s batsmen in the first three Tests of the ongoing Ashes series.

In a statement from the ECB, Swann was quoted as saying: “After a great deal of consideration I have decided to call it a day on my international and first-class career. This decision has been very difficult, seeing as the England team has been my family for seven years now, but I feel that now is the right time to step down.

“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.

“My personal highlights include the three Ashes victories, which I will cherish for the rest of my life, and the World T20 victory in the West Indies which ranks as my limited overs highlight.

“I have met, played with and against, and become friends with some magnificent people throughout my journey and feel truly privileged to have been given these opportunities.”

Swann has played 60 Tests for England making his debut in 2008 against India in Chennai. He took two wickets in his first over. He has taken 255 wickets in a Test career spanning five years and is the sixth leading Test wicket taker of all time for England.

He took 17 five-wicket hauls in his Test career and claimed 10 wickets in a match three times against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and most recently New Zealand earlier this year. Despite struggling with an elbow injury in recent years, he has played a part in the three Ashes series victories and helped England become the No. 1 side in the world in 2011.

Swann has also played 79 ODIs for England, making his debut in 2000 at the age of 20 against South Africa in Bloemfontein. The 34-year-old off spinner has claimed 104 ODI wickets and in 2011 was the No. 1 ranked ODI bowler. Swann has been a key member of England’s T20 squad since making his debut in 2008 against New Zealand, helping England to the ICC World T20 title in 2010 and captaining the side three times in 2011.

Swann added: “I'd also like to pay tribute to both Northamptonshire County Cricket Club for giving me my grounding in the game and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club for turning me into the cricketer I wanted to be. Two Championship titles and my maiden one-day final victory with the Outlaws are also achievements of which I am immensely proud.

“With two games to go in Australia, and then a fiercely competitive summer against Sri Lanka and India, I feel that it is a great time for someone else to strap themselves in and hopefully enjoy the ride as much as I have.

“Finally I’d like to thank all my England team mates for their non-stop support and camaraderie and of course wish Andy Flower and Alastair Cook all the success in the world for the future. First and foremost I am a fervent England fan at heart.”

England team director Andy Flower said: “Graeme Swann has made an outstanding contribution to the England cricket team in all formats throughout an incredibly successful career and I would like to congratulate him on all that he has achieved.”