Shane Watson’s intentions were clear from the first over, dispatching Graeme Swann to all corners of the WACA.
AS it transpired, the final over Graeme Swann bowled in Test cricket simply underscored his inkling that his time had come.
With Shane Watson swinging for quick runs in Perth, the larrikin who had for years traded in flight and deception as much as his off-spin had no answer.
Four. Six. Dot. Six. Dot. Six. An inglorious 22-run salvo to effectively end the career of one of England’s finest spinners.
A late bloomer in Test cricket, Graeme Swann soon cemented his position as England’s number one spinner after making an immediate impact on the world stage.
History will show that Swann’s 255 Test wickets came at a more than commendable average of 29.96. He took five wickets in an innings an impressive 17 times and 10 in a match three times.
What doesn’t jump off the page is that England won half the 60 Tests in which Swann played and, befitting his own self-perception, his record of 150 wickets at 22 in those 30 games regularly had him branded as a match-winner.
Yet as much as Swann was a constant topic and threat in his 18 Ashes appearances, Australia didn’t see his best.
Darren Lehmann and Nathan Lyon have praised Graeme Swann despite the England spinner retiring mid-tour.
His average was almost exactly 10 runs worse against the Aussies – despite their often lengthy list of left-handers – and his economy rate also by far his worst.
Worse, his average in Australia is 52.59, including just seven wickets at 80 in the current series.
Yet for all that, he deserves his spot in the pantheon of great English tweakers.
He’s second only to left-armer Derek Underwood’s 297 victims as England’s most successful spinner. In fact, he’s sixth among all bowlers to have worn the Lions.
And other than Shane Warne (708), Swann’s haul leaves him seven clear of Australia’s next most prolific spinner, Richie Benaud (248).
Graeme Swann has retired from cricket. He has had a fantastic career. He’s played 60 tests since his debut as a 20-year-old in 2000. Tim Abraham of Sky Sports speaks to Sarah Jones about the ramifications and Swann’s career.
Yet most veteran observers will say he wasn’t in the same class as Jim Laker – he of the 19-wicket match haul against Australia in 1956 – whose 193 wickets came at an average of 21.2.
But he of the proud collar said when he slid into retirement that he rated winning far above the numbers that invariably define cricketers’ careers.
And as his 34-year-old body – in particular the troublesome right elbow that kept him out of last summer’s tour of New Zealand – betrayed him, his motivations were never clearer than yesterday when he made his exit midway through a losing Ashes cause.
“I wasn’t willing to hang on and just get by being a bit-part player. I want to be a guy who wins matches for England and I don’t feel I was doing that … any more,” he said.
“As a result, it’s time to go.”