Graeme Swann hits back at ‘old school’ Graham Gooch over retirement

This article is more than 6 years old
Swann defends leaving Ashes tour before last two Tests
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Graeme Swann
Graeme Swann said Graham Gooch is ‘a bit misinformed’ to say the bowler left England’s Ashes tour because of his form. Photograph: PR
Graeme Swann said Graham Gooch is ‘a bit misinformed’ to say the bowler left England’s Ashes tour because of his form. Photograph: PR

Last modified on Fri 15 Feb 2019 11.16 EST

Graeme Swann has defended his decision to retire midway through England’s most recent Ashes tour of Australia, rejecting Graham Gooch’s assertion that he made the team a laughing stock and describing the former batting coach as “old school”.

Swann, who withdrew from the 2013-14 series because of an elbow injury, also questioned the decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board to sack Kevin Pietersen in the aftermath of that ill-fated whitewash, in the belief that the batsman could have simply not been selected to avoid subsequent the “bloodletting” that has tarnished the game in recent weeks.

Pietersen’s autobiography, in which he launches stinging criticism of numerous people within the English setup, has caused significant controversy since its release. Swann reiterated his belief that there was no bullying within the team and “no one is supporting” Pietersen’s claims.

The 35-year-old former off-spinner retired from international cricket in December last year, once Australia had secured an unassailable 3-0 Ashes lead in Perth and with England’s camp in disarray. Swann had taken only seven wickets in the series and withdrew from the remaining Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

Gooch, the former batting coach who lost his job in May this year, described the decision as “criminal” and said that it left a bad taste. However, Swann defended his position on Wednesday.

“I never spoke to Goochy about it. I’m surprised actually, I thought he would have talked to me. I said at the time, I don’t think it’s right and proper to carry on in the sport when you’re a hindrance to the team. It was an injury issue. Some people think differently, some people think you should just carry on regardless but I don’t and I never will.

“I didn’t see Goochy at all, I haven’t spoke to him since. Goochy is very old school, and the fact that me and Goochy haven’t sat down and talked about it, perhaps if he had my perspective on it he might see the reasons why I did it. He’s a bit misinformed thinking that I just left because of form. It wasn’t because of form, it was because I couldn’t turn a cricket ball which, as a spin bowler, you are then useless to your team.”

Swann, who took 255 Test wickets for England, was expected to be dropped for the Melbourne fixture but his decision to leave the team came as a major surprise. He has offered to return to the game as a batsman but has received no offers.

He continued: “I’m sure at some point I’ll speak to Goochy. I’ve not spoken to him since, I’m surprised he didn’t speak to me first but I don’t think he’s got my new number. In retrospect I shouldn’t have gone on the tour at all.”

Pietersen has stated that Swann was part of a clique of bowlers who, with the wicketkeeper Matt Prior, bullied team-mates who misfielded. Asked if the ECB should have simply not selected Pietersen rather than sacking him, Swann replied: “Maybe, it might have been a cleaner way of doing things and certainly a lot less bloodletting.”

He added: “Someone is trying to sell a book at the moment. In two weeks’ time, once the inevitable rounds of interviews are done, no one will give a monkeys. I don’t think he has done himself any favours in the long run. But Kev has always been different.

“Certain things that you may have been led to believe happened didn’t. The very fact that however many people have been interviewed and no one is supporting these claims that Kev has come out with. There wasn’t any bullying.”

BT Sport ambassador Graeme Swann will drive at Wales Rally GB (13–16 November) for an exclusive documentary. Tickets at or on 0844 847 2251