Graeme Swann retires midway through Ashes

Graeme SwannEngland's Graeme Swann announces his retirement during a press conference at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday Dec. 22, 2013. Swann retired Sunday from international and first-class cricket while on the Ashes tour of Australia, just four days before the start of the fourth test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. AP/PTI

England spinner Graeme Swann has announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket midway through the Ashes after being put to the sword by Australia's batsmen in the first three tests of the series.

The surprise announcement comes days after England surrendered the coveted urn in the third test in Perth to fall 3-0 behind in the five-test series, and continues a tumultuous campaign for the visitors both and on off the field.

The 34-year-old Northampton man said his body was no longer up to the rigour of long-form cricket and that it would be selfish for him to stay in a team that needed to rebuild.

"It's quite simple, when I came out on this trip, I half expected it to be my last tour for England," he told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where the fourth test starts on Thursday.

"I was desperately hoping to win the Ashes out here again, like we did in 2010-11 but with the Ashes gone now, with those three test matches, personally I think to stay on and selfishly play just to experience another Boxing Day test, Sydney test match would be wrong.

"It would be wrong for the team, it would be wrong for me as well.

"It's time for someone else to strap themselves in and enjoy the ride like I have done. It's time for England to rebuild and refocus on winning back these big series and me hanging around with the decision already made in my head wouldn't be right."

Swann had long been Australia's Ashes tormentor, playing a key role in England's run of three successive series wins against their arch-rivals, but has been a shadow of the guileful off-spinner that topped the bowling table with 26 wickets in the northern Ashes, which England won 3-0.

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