Has anything gone right for England?
As Australia aim for a series whitewash, Jesse Hogan and Chloe Saltau review England's poor performance in the previous three Ashes Tests.PT4M48S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zua8 620 349 December 23, 2013
Graeme Swann has been criticised by two former England captains over comments he made in the aftermath of his retirement at the weekend.
Swann, speaking at a press conference to explain his unexpected decision to withdraw from the England team in the middle of an Ashes series, expressed his disgust at current players who "have no idea how far up their own backsides they are".
Swann refused to name his target specifically, but the comments were widely interpreted as veiled criticism of a current team-mate or team-mates.
Graeme Swann (second from the left) kisses the Ashes trophy as captain Andrew Strauss (left), Jonathan Trott (second from the right) and Andrew Flintoff (right) enjoy 2009 Ashes success. All are now out of the England fold. Photo: AFP
Swann has publicly criticised Kevin Pietersen in the past, claiming the batsman should not have been appointed England captain.
Swann's latest comments prompted rebukes from both Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff. That in turn led Swann to deny he was referring to anyone in "the England dressing room".
Swann is expected to clarify further his position this morning in the national newspaper for whom he writes a regular column.
That newspaper, in common with others in England and Australia who attended Swann's original press conference, reported the comments as an apparent attack on a team-mate.
"At least in 2006-07 players and coaches waited to slag each other off in books years later," Flintoff said, in a reference to England's last Ashes defeat in Australia, when he was -captain. Flintoff added: "'Man in the mirror' springs to mind. Embarrassing."
Flintoff's sentiments were echoed by Vaughan, who exchanged Twitter messages with Swann. Vaughan said: "So Graeme Swann says some -England players' heads are up their own a---? Which ones exactly? As a respected senior player in the dressing room, Graeme Swann, why didn't you sort players out who got too big for themselves?
"I agree that some players are getting ahead of themselves but I don't think he should have said it the day after retiring. This tour for England was already a disaster. Now it's a b----- joke."
Swann responded by telling Vaughan: "Don't jump to conclusions Vaughny, I wasn't talking about the England dressing room or anyone in it." Vaughan replied: "We all make mistakes. I make plenty. I am afraid on this occasion you have made one."
Alastair Cook, the England captain who is trying to find a formula to help his side avoid a 5-0 series defeat, said Swann's comments had come as a "surprise" to the England dressing room and that the spinner had subsequently reassured the squad he had not intended to criticise them.
Cook said: "When we heard about it this morning, it was a surprise comment. We all know how these things can be blown out of proportion. Hopefully, it has been dealt with now. Swanny has made it very clear to the lads that he didn't mean any -England player."
Swann has faced some criticism for his decision to retire with England on their knees in the series and the team preparing for the intensity of a Boxing Day Test at the vast Melbourne Cricket Ground. But Cook said: "When you talk to him and see in his eyes that he'd had enough, I think it made it an easy decision for him to make.
"He could have turned up to -training and gone through the motions. Who knows how selection would have gone this week. Speaking to old players about when to retire, they say when you know, you know. And speaking to Swanny over the last couple of days, he just knew this was the time.
"There was no point hanging on for a couple of games. He'd given his all in the England shirt and can be very proud of his achievements."
Swann attributed his abrupt retirement to a sudden realisation he had gone into physical decline, but his grandmother said yesterday she believed he had also been influenced by the hostility shown to the England team by the Australian opponents.
In an interview with her local -newspaper in Northumberland, The Journal, Mina Swann, 89, said she suspected something "nasty" had happened between the teams.
"There is something gone wrong there and I blame the Australian -players. Not all the Australian players, a certain one," she said.
"When the team went down to -Australia and that young lad came back [Jonathan Trott], there was something going wrong then.
"I do not think they have been very welcome, the team. [Graeme] is not easily upset, there is something nasty happened."
Mina said she was "very disappointed" her grandson had retired.
"He adored his cricket," she said. "It is a damn shame, he has lived for that game, he has done everything for that game.
"I am very disappointed because watching him on TV is one thing I look forward to. I will be very disappointed when he is not there."
The Daily Telegraph