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England's spinner Swann announces retirement from cricket

MELBOURNE -- England spinner Graeme Swann announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket with immediate effect on Sunday, in a bombshell just days before the beleaguered tourists meet Australia in the fourth Ashes Test.

Swann, who took 255 wickets in 60 Tests in just five years and is sixth on the list of Test wicket-takers for England, said defeat in Perth last week, where Australia sealed the Ashes, had cemented his decision to call it a day.

His abrupt announcement further unsettles England, who trail 3-0 in the series after three heavy defeats and are battling to avoid a humiliating 5-0 series whitewash.

“I know I'm making a decision for the right reasons. I made the decision after the Perth Test. It was probably halfway through that Perth game, to be honest,” Swann, 34, told a press conference in Melbourne.

“My body doesn't like playing long forms of cricket, my arm doesn't cope with bowling 30-40 overs in the first innings and then repeating it in the second innings a day later.

“I could feel my performances tapering off to the back-end of games and I wasn't happy with that. As a spinner, that's when you need to come into your own.

“I am not willing just to hang on and just get by, by being a bit-part player. I want to win matches for England and I don't feel like I was doing that in the second innings any more. As a result, it's time to go.”

The off-spinner, a jovial and popular character within the England team, has been under pressure to keep his place in the squad after taking just seven wickets at an average of 80.00 in the three Tests in Australia.

Swann, a key member of the English team that won the previous three Ashes series, will miss the fourth Test starting in Melbourne on Thursday and the final Test in Sydney, with fellow spinner Monty Panesar likely to take his place for the Boxing Day Test.

Swann's withdrawal means further disruption for England following the departure of batsman Jonathan Trott earlier in the tour with a stress-related illness.

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 Clermont stay top after 69th-straight home win 
England's Graeme Swann leaves the field after losing his wicket during play on the first day of the fourth Ashes cricket Test match between England and Australia at the Riverside stadium in Chester-le-Street, northeast England on August 9. (AFP)

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