SYDNEY: England captain Alastair Cook yesterday declared the furore over Graeme Swann’s shock retirement “closed”, saying the spinner had assured him that controversial remarks about player arrogance were not directed at his team-mates.
Swann stunned the cricket world with his announcement on Sunday that he was resigning immediately from the England team midway through the Ashes series. He stoked tensions by saying some players had “no idea how far up their own backsides they are”.
There was speculation he was referring to his England colleagues, particularly outspoken batsman Kevin Pietersen. But Swann has since denied that and Cook said yesterday he had insisted it was not the case.
“A phone call to Swanny reassured me very quickly that it wasn’t at all anything about England players,” Cook told reporters ahead of today’s Boxing Day fourth Test, where the tourists will be hoping to avert a 5-0 series whitewash.
“I haven’t heard the quotes exactly — obviously I’ve seen what’s been written — and whether it’s come across badly, he totally 100 percent reassures me and the whole England team that it’s not about us. “So to me the matter’s closed on that.”
Australia clinched the Ashes by taking an unbeatable 3-0 lead in Perth and Swann’s departure has further destabilised the tourists’ already-shaky campaign.
But Cook commended Swann for his courage, saying “no one’s forcing you to play cricket for England, we’re privileged to do that.”
“Graeme just gave up a lot for that England shirt and he had no more to give, and I think it’s a very brave decision,” he said.
“He could have just hung on for these two games, and whether he played or not is pretty irrelevant, he could have stayed but he was like ‘I know I’ve got no more to give, I don’t feel I’ve got anything left’.” Cook said Swann “will be missed because he was a fine, fine cricketer.”
Spinner Monty Panesar is expected to step in for England on Thursday, and Cook said pace spearhead Stuart Broad had made promising progress back to fitness after a foot injury in Perth.
Australian captain Michael Clarke said he would retain the same 12 from the previous three Tests, with everyone looking “fully fit”. His final 11 will be named at the toss.
Despite three convincing wins on the trot over third-ranked England, Clarke said there was no room for complacency and declined to offer Cook advice.
“I don’t think it would be fair for me to sit here and try and give advice to Alastair or to the England team because we’ve only won three test matches out of the last, I think it’s a dozen now,” he said.
“We’re ranked fifth in the world, we’ve won three test matches out of the past 12 months.”
“England have a very good team, a lot of very good individual players... I think they know they’ve got the stock there, it’s just about them continuing to do what they’ve done for long periods of time, it’s got them to be the number one team in the world.”
Clarke also declined to comment on the Australians’ change of coach and recent turnaround in form. “I don’t think now’s the right time for me to talk about that, to be honest, I think it’s really important that we focus on the here and now,” he said.
“I’d prefer to offend nobody and not get involved in it. Mickey (Arthur) did his job to the best of his ability and I thought did a really good job -- Darren (Lehmann)’s doing the job now to the best of his ability and he’s doing a good job as well.”AFP