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
England is edging closer to self-destruction after the fallout from Graeme Swann's sensational exit interview plunged its unhappy Ashes campaign from disarray into farce on Monday.
Facing a fourth consecutive Test defeat and potentially another embarrassing Ashes whitewash on Australian soil, England's tour reached a new low after Swann took a dig at his former teammates.
Swann's remarks triggered talk of dissension among the ranks and sparked a row with former captain Michael Vaughan.
The fallout from Graeme Swann's retirement is continuing to rock the England team. Photo: AFP
Having already surrendered the urn, had a senior player return home and a stalwart retire mid-tour, England's turmoil is rivalling the soap opera that was Australian cricket earlier this year, consigning its Ashes success only four months ago to history.
''This tour for England was already a disaster … now it's a bloody joke,'' Vaughan tweeted on Monday.
The latest controversy to dog England's tour started with an interview Swann gave to the English media in which he said: ''Some people playing the game at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are.
''It will bite them on the arse one day and, when it does, I hope they look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on.''
The comments appeared to be a thinly veiled swipe at Kevin Pietersen, whose leadership Swann criticised in his 2011 autobiography after an ill-fated tenure as captain.
Pietersen has been horribly out of form on this tour and attracted criticism for the cavalier nature of his dismissals.
Swann's remarks were reported by some British media outlets as being about players in the England dressing room, though the spinner denied they were directed at any individual.
Although Vaughan did not disagree with Swann's sentiments, he was unhappy with the timing of the outburst.
''So @Swannyg66 says some England players heads are up their own Arse???? Which ones exactly??'' Vaughan tweeted.
''As a respected senior player in the dressing room @Swannyg66 .. Why didn't you sort players out who got too big for themselves ??
''I agree with @Swannyg66 that some players are getting ahead of themselves but I don't think he should have said it the day after retiring.''
Swann responded by tweeting: ''@MichaelVaughan don't jump to conclusions Vaughney. I wasn't talking about the England dressing room or anyone in it. You too bbc.'' The tweet was later deleted.
But Vaughan was not swayed, telling Swann he had erred. ''We all make mistakes @Swannyg66 .. I make plenty … I am afraid on this occasion you have made one.''
Monty Panesar, Swann's on-field replacement, said he was unaware who his fellow spinner was alluding to. He even suggested Swann's angst was driven by a soccer team back home.
Swann is a diehard fan of English Premier League club Newcastle United.
Panesar said the England Test team remained fully behind Swann's decision to retire.
''Swanny knows who he's referring to, but in terms of the dressing room and the teammates, we're right behind him,'' he said.
''We loved him to bits when he played with us, he had great character and his sense of humour was good. We all back him as a team.''
Panesar denied the tour had become a joke, as Vaughan had suggested.
''We still have two Test matches to show our hunger and determination,'' he said. ''Come the Boxing Day Test match we want to put a very good performance in and try and show some fight and character.
''We're a very hungry and determined dressing room to make the most of our next two Test matches.''
■ Swann's sudden retirement has prompted English cricket to call up two fellow spin bowlers for the last two Ashes Tests. Leg-spinner Scott Borthwick will join the squad for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. The ECB will also send off-spinner James Tredwell to Sydney for the last Test of the series. Panesar will take Swann's place on Boxing Day.