Updated: Monday, 23 December 2013 02:47 | By Agence France-Presse

Tributes flow following Swann's shock exit

Tributes flowed for England spinner Graeme Swann after his bombshell retirement from international cricket Sunday midway through the Ashes series.

Tributes flow following Swann's shock exit

England Ashes Test cricketer Graeme Swann runs in to bowl past teammate Stuart Broad (R), during the tour match against a Cricket Australia Invitational XI in Sydney on November 16, 2013

Swann explained his shock decision in press conference in Melbourne on Sunday, telling reporters England's 150-run defeat in last week's Perth Test -- which gave Australia a 3-0 series lead and the Ashes for the first time since 2009 -- had sealed his decision.

His retirement, effective immediately, comes days before the fourth Test as a rattled England side try to stave off a 5-0 clean sweep in the series.

Australia and England players, plus former greats, said they were stunned by Swann's decision.

"I don't know what to say, I thought he'd bowled OK in the series, just without luck I guess," said fast-bowler Ryan Harris.

"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."

Spinner Nathan Lyon said he had been "pretty shocked" by the news.

"He's someone who I've looked up to a lot," Lyon said. 

"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."

Swann's England team-mates took to Twitter to bid farewell to a player they described as one of the greats.

"Congrats @swannyg66 on brilliant career, will miss playing with the fellow twin.. #spintwins," wrote Monty Panesar.

"What a career Swanny has had, very sad to see him retire, great bloke, won a lot of games for England and one of the funniest around," added rising England star Ben Stokes.

Tim Bresnan offered his "huge congratulations on a great career in cricket" and said he would miss the jovial and popular Swann's "constant putdowns and abuse of my mental capacity".

"Also, many batsmen around the world have just exhaled a huge sigh of relief. Due to your constant challenge of the stumps and prodigious spin," Bresnan said.

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan said on Twitter he believed it was "too soon" for Swann to call it a day, describing him as "finger spin out of the top draw".

"Of all the England players over the last 20 yrs he is the one the team (will) miss the most .. Spinners of his quality are a rare breed..." Vaughan tweeted.

"He has also been a brilliant character who plays the game how it should be played .. With a energy of fun and humour.. #OldSchool"

Vaughan said Swann's departure reinforced that "this Ashes tour is a absolute Disaster", lamenting that "just 4 weeks ago England were favourites to win this series".

But he defended Swann from accusations of selfishness, saying he had "made the right call for the team" knowing he wouldn't make it to the 2015 World Cup.

Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal said he was disappointed that Swann had called it quits.

"Swann earned his status as one of the best through his guile and it was wonderful playing against him. It's his decision and I think he knows his body well. I wish him the best," said the Pakistan star.

Former Pakistan seamer and national coach Waqar Younis believes Swann's decision to quit illustrated the pressures on the top players.

"It's sad news. I think the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) must look deep into it," said Waqar.

"Their players are playing heaps of county cricket and at international level which is taking its toll. They are getting sick of it, like three months after an Ashes in England they got into another Ashes which has its pressures, like the event, the Barmy Army, the Australian team, and depression creeps in.

"There was (Marcus) Trescothick, then (Jonathan) Trott and now Swann. It's happening to one country so they must sort this out."

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