View a full range of our ebooks

View full library


Our Location

The PHA Group
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350
PHA Digital Studio
Fourth Floor,
47 Dean St,

0207 0251 350
PHA Finance Department
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350

Just like England’s batting, Graeme Swann’s retirement comments show terrible timing.

Just like England’s batting, Graeme Swann’s retirement comments show terrible timing.

The announcement by Graeme Swann to retire in the middle of the disastrous Ashes tour of Australia has split opinion.

Experts, including Geoff Boycott and Nasser Hussain, have made it clear they believe the spinner’s decision to be a brave one. When Sir Ian Botham also says we should all wish him well, it is hard to argue.

Many former-players have followed suit, saying that if a cricket is on tour and feels it is time to call it a day, then retiring is the best option. After all, the Ashes were long gone, and Swann has given as much as he could.

But there is also a camp, including many fans, which has criticised the timing of his decision, and his subsequent actions.

Swann himself has said he has never recovered fully from the elbow problem on which he needed surgery.

Some say his last over for England – where he was smashed around the ground by Shane Watson – clearly showed it was time to go.

His England career started with him being seen as something a joke, but while he remained a ‘joker’, he turned his raw talent into something quite brilliant. His 255 career Test wickets make him England’s most prolific spin bowler ever.

A great slip fielder and useful batsman to boot, he was one of the biggest personalities in the England dressing room and often the difference between England winning and losing. No doubt England has lost a big player.

The fact he was such an integral part of such a successful team (remember England were officially the number one Test side in the world at one point) that has caused him to face so much criticism for his decision.

The problem has been compounded with his press conference comments, in which he appeared to have a dig at some of his England teammates.

This has led him to be abused on Social Media. Indeed. Swanny took to Twitter, on which he has just under 620,000 followers, to defend himself, saying his comments were not aimed at his teammates.

However, Swann was then quoted in The Sun, the newspaper for which he writes, saying: “It really annoys me when people take playing cricket for England for granted…”

Given he and the mercurial Kevin Pietersen have history, it’s no wonder a number of fans have seen his walk-out and subsequent interviews as a “betrayal” of the England team.

Whether he has been misquoted or misinterpreted, Swann’s biggest mistake has been to give so much to the media so shortly after his announcement. It has turned what should have been a well-managed process into a PR nightmare.

Newspapers always want the biggest and best reaction before rivals. With Swann being a Sun columnist, it was obviously a good outlet for him to clearly give his reasons.

But comments on other players are always headline grabbers and seem hugely out of character and out of place.

It’s difficult to imagine he did not have copy approval.

Swann is no fool and must have known that those comments, while everyone is still picking over the bones of the Ashes disaster, would have caused issues.

One of his greatest strengths as a bowler was to know when to go on the attack, and when to defend in order to keep the run-rate down.

He should have used the very same judgment here. To coin another cricket phrase, his interviews needed to be played with as straight a bat as possible. His strategy should have been to stick doggedly to giving his reasons, while at the same time announcing his full support of the team – and addressing the fans.

If he felt the need to be more outspoken at a later date, it should have come well after the Ashes tour.

Many feel Swann’s next move is a career in the media.

It will be a shame if he moves into the punditry world with fans remembering him best for the way he retired, rather than his fantastic career which came before it.

Cricket, please do not hurtle down the same path as football

Sledging in cricket

Cricket is supposedly the sport of gentlemen but the current Ashes series has dealt it terrible PR.

Sledging has reared its ugly head. While it won’t quite fully overshadow the impressive and aggressive cricket played by Australia, it has certainly left a murky blot on the game’s copybook.

The art of sledging – verbal abuse dished out to batsmen by the fielding side in the hope it will put them off their game – is nothing new.

There is one famous story of Zimbabwean batsman Eddo Brandes who took his position at the crease to be asked by the Aussie fast bowler Glenn McGrath: “Why are you so fat?”. His sharp reply had something to do with the eating of biscuits as a reward every time he was secretly “entertained” by McGrath’s better-half.

The sledging at the Ashes has nowhere been as imaginative as that famous story. Indeed, on occasion, it has been aggressive and at times vile, with threats of broken arms and other such nonsense being flung around like George Bailey boundaries in a Jimmy Anderson over.

It is true that there is intense rivalry between the two teams.

The Ashes are of vital importance.

Anyone in any doubt should check the tired faces of commuters on their way to work in the morning after staying up all night to check scores from Down Under on Sky Sports, Twitter or Test Match Special.

Down the years, the Ashes have, in the main (we won’t mention the Bodyline series of 1932-33), been played with a sporting ethos running through them. Freddie Flintoff consoling crestfallen Aussie tail-ender Brett Lee when England triumphed in the 2005 Edgbaston Ashes test encapsulated the spirit of that rivalry.

The press has helped up the ante Down Under. The treatment of Stuart Broad by some sections of the Aussie media has been ridiculous. His decision to arrive at the first press conference of the first Ashes test carrying the local newspaper which refused to use his name in protest over his refusal to walk in the previous series seemed at the time a cheeky gesture. With the benefit of hindsight, it now seems just downright sledging

As well as the sledging antics, cricketers have also fallen foul to the most infamous of traps which usually snares their footballing colleagues – social media.

In quick succession, we have read in newspapers apologies from Ryan Harris and Graeme Swann over indiscretions on social media. Swann’s was much more serious than Harris’s drink-fuelled outburst, stupidly likening the Ashes loss to rape.

Cricket has become far more professional in recent years, with more money being put into, which may explain the increased rivalry as well as increased scrutiny.

Match-fixing scandals have tarnished the face of the game over the past decade. Cricket has fought hard to put these behind it but the last thing it needed was sledging and football-like anger chipping away at its very heart in the current Ashes series.

England limply surrendered the Ashes in horrible fashion.

But with only pride left to play for, the management – and indeed PR men – for both teams should be driving home the message that England and Australia have a responsibility to restore cricket’s good name by improving the on and off-field behaviour towards each other.

Football tends to bring out the worst in people and has for too long trodden the path of bad behaviour. Cricket should do all it can, not to follow it.