Former England captain Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott have both defended Graeme Swann over criticism that the off-spinner is being ‘selfish’ by retiring in the midst of an Ashes series.
Northampton-born Swann has called time on his career with the tourists 3-0 down in the series and having already surrendered the urn.
The 34-year-old former Northants player has come in for criticism on social media sites for the timing of his decision, with Derek Pringle, who took 70 Test wickets for England, saying on Twitter he “should have seen the tour out as a senior player” unless he was injured.
But Vaughan said Swann was giving up a lot.
He told BBC Radio Five Live: “There will be many cricket fans who have travelled over saying, ‘Wait a minute, you signed up to play the whole of the Ashes tour yet you’re doing one three games in’.
“But I think it’s more the mind.
“I think the elbow problem (Swann has had three operations on his bowling elbow ) has just triggered the mind to suggest that enough’s enough.
“I am surprised at the timing, I do think Swann had more cricket left in him, because I know what a wonderful bowler he is.
“I look to the next two years, England have got only 14 Test matches between now and the next Ashes series.
“There’s a World Cup in 2015 which Swann would have been a part of so he is giving a lot away.
“Those that say he’s being selfish just take into consideration that he’s giving up an England contract of nine months that is a lot of money, so he’s throwing a lot of money away by making the decision now.
“I don’t think he’s been selfish, I think he’s done it for his own mind, he thinks the team are better off without him.”
Vaughan said Swann, a former pupil at Sponne School in Towcester, would be one of England’s hardest players to replace of the last 20 years.
“The England team will certainly miss him,” he said.
“It’s going to be a huge hole in the dressing room to fill as well with his character, his fun, his energy.
“I think he is going to be a really hard cricketer for the England side to replace. They will replace him, the team soon moves on, but I do think Swann of the last 20 years is going to be one of the hardest to replace, just for the fact he’s such an attacking spin option, one we’ve not had.”
Former England coach David Lloyd praised Swann’s selflessness.
He tweeted: “Swann retirement... Been a brilliant bowler in International cricket . Not about individual records for him”
Mick Newell, director of cricket at Swann’s county Nottinghamshire, said Swann’s carefree demeanour belied a studious attitude to the game.
“He joined us with a reputation for not taking things seriously but I found him to be very thoughtful about his cricket and very committed to improving his game,” Newell told www.trentbridge.co.uk.
“He knows how to perk up a dressing room and he was an outstanding character to have in a cricket team.
“Swanny has been a dominant performer in Test cricket for six years and it will leave a huge gap in the England team because there is no outstanding spinner quite ready to fill the place that he will leave.
“His chance on the international scene came very late after a long period in county cricket but he grasped it and surpassed all expectations with his achievements at the highest level.”
As for the future, Newell added: “I’d imagine that coaching would be far too mundane for him but he’ll always be welcome at Trent Bridge.
“I expect that we’ll see him launch a media career and I’m sure he’ll be very successful.”
Swann’s opposite number in the Australia team, Nathan Lyon, paid tribute to his “unbelievable” fellow off-spinner.
“He’s someone who I’ve looked up to a lot,” Lyon told cricket.com.au.
“His career stats stand for themselves, he’s been an unbelievable spinner and someone who I watched pretty closely in my time.
“I’m sure he will be sorely missed in the England team but I wish him all the best in the future.”
Australia paceman Ryan Harris admitted the announcement had taken him completely by surprise.
“I don’t know what to say, I thought he’d bowled okay in the series, just without luck I guess,” said Harris.
“I feel that we’ve played him very well too.
“Something’s obviously not quite right with him, or he’s fulfilled whatever he wanted to do, but to me that’s a huge shock.”
Geoffrey Boycott said Swann’s decision was “honest” and “brave”.
The former England opener told Five Live: “He hasn’t been right the whole series, he hasn’t been the Graeme Swann we know. He’s better than his figures.
“I think it’s very honest, it’s very difficult to get up for top-class sport when you’re not bowling your best.
“I think it’s very honest to say, ‘Hey I’ve shot it, that’s it, I’m not going to be any good any more’. It takes a brave man to do that.”
Swann, England’s most successful off-spinner with 255 Test victims, has taken only seven wickets in this winter’s Ashes at a cost of 80 runs each.
Boycott added: “What is the point of going out there if he bowls badly?
“He knows he’s not bowling well, the Australians have got him by the throat anyhow, they’re whacking him around, he’s not getting anybody out that matters. He knows all that.
“And he may not have got picked (for the fourth Test) anyway.
“He would have stood there like a bystander taking drinks out while Monty (Panesar) bowls. It’s easier this way.
“He’s nothing to be ashamed about, he’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
“He’s been an excellent performer for England and I think he can hold his head up high.”