Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Jack Marshall0
Floats like bone fragments, stings like hell – Swann’s elbow injury
“ The problem that caused concern for Swann during the warm-up match in Queenstown is nowhere near as severe as the one that faced him four years ago, and should the surgery be successful once again, Swann himself has claimed it could save and extend his career.” Writes Jack Marshall
With one of the biggest years of cricket in England’s history coming up, the news that Graeme Swann – the country’s second most successful spin bowler of all time – has had to pull out of the current series against New Zealand after a recurrence of a persistent chronic elbow injury will be of great concern to skipper Alastair Cook and coach Andy Flower.
With back-to-back Ashes series coming up, as well as five Tests against New Zealand, England have as busy a schedule as they come, and with England hosting a joint bid to return to number one in Test cricket while preserving their recent good form in Ashes cricket, the pressure is on an England squad that will require not only strength in depth, but all its key components, Swann of course being one of them, in pristine condition and form.
The Nottinghamshire off-spinner suffered a recurrence of the problems that resulted in his having an operation before the last home Ashes series in 2009. The operation, which removed 29 floating bone fragments from Swann’s right elbow, was deemed successful, but a few fragments remained seeing as they were too close to the nerve to access. The problem that caused concern for Swann during the warm-up match in Queenstown is nowhere near as severe as the one that faced him four years ago, and should the surgery be successful once again, Swann himself has claimed it could save and extend his career.
Swann, who’ll travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to see Shawn O’Driscoll, the world’s leading authority on sporting injuries of the elbow, said “I know if I don’t have the surgery it’s more or less curtains, I’m assured the surgery is relatively simple, so touch wood it will be and I’ll wake up on the other end and everything will be great.I said yesterday that I was trying to go through my whole career without needing surgery again, but the specialist came back and said something needed to be done. So be it. It’s a huge year for English cricket and a huge year for me, so if this means taking a more active part in it then it’s something I have to do.”
All being well, England will have their premier spinner back for the home series against New Zealand which starts in May, but the main focus for the man to be replaced by Sussex left-arm spinner Monty Panesar for the time being will undoubtedly be the Ashes. Swann’s importance in the team cannot be undervalued, as shown by the permeation of his buoyant and uplifting attitude towards cricket throughout the England dressing room, where Swann has become a crucial senior member.
His bowling, should Swann succumb to the injury long-term, will be sorely missed, but with the likes of Panesar and Tredwell, supported by county prospects like Hampshire’s Danny Briggs, Durham’s Scott Borthwick, and Lancashire’s Simon Kerrigan, England are hardly poorly-stocked in that department. It’s Swann’s guile, persistence, presence, and irrefutable skill that makes him stand out above the rest, and England could do will all such virtues in abundance with Michael Clarke’s men coming to town.
But Swann is not all about the bowling. His batting, while rather hit-or-miss, is immensely valuable to England, for whom he averages 23.52 with 5 half centuries. His ability to get under the skin of the opposition bowlers, forced askew in their lines and lengths, as well as his natural timing make Swann as dangerous a number nine in Test cricket as there is. His catching at second slip is world class too, and while England may not be losing out overtly in the bowling department should Panesar come into the side, Monty simply cannot hold a candle to Swann when it comes to batting and fielding.
Swann, though is in good spirits regarding the circumstances, and appears much less concerned about the injury while concentrating on his rehabilitation, which involves the use of a CPM machine, which ‘drove Swann round the bend’ in 2009, to keep his elbow in perennial motion twenty-four hours a day – an experience that his team mate Tim Bresnan (fresh from his own elbow operation at the Mayo Clinic) is currently enjoying.
So with a huge year of Test cricket coming up for England, as well as a Champions Trophy jammed in for good measure, Swann will hope to be up and running and ready to play a crucial part for England in all three formats. One thing is for sure: England will miss their eccentrically brilliant spinner in their bid to reclaim the number one Test ranking and retain the Ashes should Swanny miss any more cricket due to his elbow.
Image credit: guardian.co.uk
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