sport

Lehmann: Swann can be proud

Australia coach Darren Lehmann admits he was shocked by Graeme Swann's decision to retire and has paid tribute to the England spinner.

Swann has called time on his career after England's Ashes defeat was sealed last week and the 34-year-old admits he can no longer meet his own standards.

A string of injuries in recent years have hampered Swann, who managed just seven wickets for 80 runs apiece in England's three defeats in the series.

Lehmann was taken aback to hear that Swann was quitting before the end of the tour, but feels he can look back proudly on his achievements in the game.

"It was a bit of a surprise," he said.

"He's been a great cricketer for England over many years, so I wish him all the best in retirement.

"It's mid-tour - I don't know what's going on - but obviously he's decided he's had enough.

"So congratulations on a great career - he'll go home as one of the England greats.

"Obviously he feels the time is right, and that's his decision."

Monty Panesar is expected to replace Swann as England's main spinner for the remaining Tests and Lehmann admits he will pose a different challenge to his side.

"If senior players can't contribute how they like, that would be their decision," added Lehmann.

"It's always tough mid-tour, but he's been a great bowler for England and has decided enough is enough and to move forward in his life.

New challenge

"England are obviously going to go down the Monty Panesar path for the next two Tests, so it is a challenge for our blokes to change the way we play against left-arm spin."

Australia's aggressive approach against Swann has paid off, with the spinner struggling to contain the hosts' batsmen.

Lehmann admits his side were forced to alter their tactics after struggling against Swann in the 3-0 Ashes defeat in the summer.

"We had a plan for him in England and did not execute it as well," he said.

"We changed things round a little bit here.

"Swann's a big player when they only have four bowlers, five when they have (all-rounder Ben) Stokes in their side, so you have to try to take one or two of them out of the equation.

"That makes their quicks bowl more - it was certainly a plan from us.

"Putting miles in legs of opposition quick bowlers is definitely a plan - make them bowl as much as we can.

"It means we are batting well.

"In a long series, (you) have to do that."

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon was full of respect for his opposite number in the England team.

"He's someone who I've looked up to a lot," said Lyon. "His career stats stand for themselves, he's been an unbelievable spinner and someone who I watched pretty closely in my time.

"I'm sure he will be sorely missed in the England team but I wish him all the best in the future."

Lyon's teammate Ryan Harris was also stunned by Swann's announcement and did not think his bowling had deteriorated badly against Australia.

"I don't know what to say, I thought he'd bowled okay in the series, just without luck I guess," said Harris. "I feel that we've played him very well too.

"Something's obviously not quite right with him, or he's fulfilled whatever he wanted to do, but to me that's a huge shock."