Graeme Swann has cautioned against interpreting his description of certain players as “up their own backsides” as a criticism of his former England teammates.
The departing off-spinner, who has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket with immediate effect, was careful to name no names when he used the description, but it was widely interpreted as being about players in the England team.
With media and former players pondering who he could have been referring to, Swann replied via Twitter to one of them —-- Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan -- to correct the misconception.
He wrote: “@MichaelVaughan don’t jump to conclusions Vaughney. I wasn’t talking about the England dressing room or anyone in it.”
Swann has never been frightened to speak his own mind about the sport he loves and the characters he has met in it.
In his autobiography ‘The Breaks Are Off’, for example, published two years ago at the start of an England one-day international tour of India, he caused a stir with his appraisal of Kevin Pietersen’s lack of aptitude for captaincy.
He left others to draw their own conclusions when 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 a*** one day, and when it does I hope they look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on.”
Swann, 34, is behind only Derek Underwood as England’s most prolific wicket-taking spinner -- with 255 victims in his 60 Tests.
Asked to reflect on his own career, Swann said he wants to be remembered as someone who brought enthusiasm as well as a competitive edge to Test cricket. “I hope my legacy is someone who always enjoyed it, who always played with a smile on his face -- sometimes a snarl when the fielders mis-fielded,” he said.
“Since I got back in the England team, I’ve treated every day like a lottery win. It really annoys me when people take it for granted and get above their station - because they shouldn’t.
“It’s the most privileged thing any man can do. I hope people will look back and say, ‘Yeah, he did always play with a smile on his face and enjoyed himself’.” Hungry & determined Monty Panesar is set to replace Swann, if England pick a spinner in the Boxing Day Test.
The slow left-armer is another whose enthusiasm for his sport is beyond doubt. He made it clear that no one in the England team, currently striving to salvage some pride in Australia, takes his status for granted. “Absolutely not. I think we all are a very hungry and determined dressing room that wants to do really well in these last two Test matches.
“We take it with pride and we want to give it our best and in no way take it for granted.”