Swann’s retirement inflates difficulty of 4th Test task

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Graeme Swann, the best English spin-bowler of his generation and one of the world’s greatest purveyors of the art over the last five years or so, has added to England’s selection dilemma ahead of the Boxing Day Test with the shock announcement of his retirement.

The downtrodden tourists have already squandered the Ashes and in the wake of three consecutive embarrassments Down Under the Nottinghamshire man has opted to call time on his career, leaving England big 3/1 outsiders to emerge victorious from the fourth Test.

The 34-year-old has endured a woeful tour, taking a paltry seven wickets as his team-mates have toiled in an utterly forgettable series for those of an English persuasion.

However, since making his international debut in the long form of the game Swann has become an integral part of the setup, contributing with both ball and bat.

His bowling record speaks for itself. He has taken 255 Test wickets at 29.96, leaving him sixth on the all-time list for his country.

He became the lynchpin of the four man attack honed by Andy Flower, enjoying three Ashes victories as well as helping England on their way to becoming the the number one side in the world in 2011.

The man himself cited the deterioration of his body as the reason for this surprising decision.

“I know I’m making the decision for the right reasons,” explained Swann. “My body doesn’t like playing five-day cricket any more, and I don’t feel I can justify my spot in the team in the latter stages of a game – and as a spinner, that’s when you need to come into your own.

This shock news leaves Stuart Broad as the fancied man to take the wickets for England in Melbourne, where he is 2/1 to be his team’s top wicket taker.

However, in 2010 it was Tim Bresnan who enjoyed running in at the MCG most, taking six wickets with an economy of just over 2. Should the Yorkshireman get the nod, and one suspects he will, he looks fantastic value at 7/2 to be Alastair Cook’s number one with the ball in hand.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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