• England in New Zealand 2012-13

Swann out of New Zealand series for elbow surgery

Andrew McGlashan in Dunedin
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Elbowed out: Graeme Swann is leaving the New Zealand tour © AFP
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Graeme Swann has been ruled out of England's tour of New Zealand and will undergo surgery on his right elbow in America next week as he faces a battle to fit for the start of the Ashes in July.

The seriousness of Swann's problem emerged on the first morning in Dunedin when he was left out of the starting XI. James Tredwell, the Kent offspinner, has been called into the squad while Monty Panesar was named in the team for the first Test. Swann's surgery will take place at the same hospital where Tim Bresnan recently had his elbow operation.

An ECB statement said: "England offspinner Graeme Swann has been ruled out of the current Test series against New Zealand due to a right elbow injury. Swann will travel to the United States next week to have an operation and will then undergo a period of rehabilitation allowing an anticipated return to competitive cricket in the early summer. A further update will be available following the operation."

Swann, 33, first had surgery on the elbow in 2009 when the surgeon removed 29 fragments of bone but had to leave some in place because of their proximity to the nerves. Swann has always said how he wanted to avoid another operation and hoped to get through the rest of his career but has been forced under the knife again.

Swann needed treatment during England's warm-up match in Queenstown and admitted his worries in his newspaper column in the build-up to the Test before being left out of the Dunedin match. It was only the fourth time Swann had been left out of a Test and the previous three occasions - twice in West Indies in 2009 and against South Africa, at Headingley, last year - have been for tactical reasons.

Swann was already being carefully managed through England's one-day commitments and missed the recent 50-over leg of the India trip and the Twenty20s at the start of the New Zealand tour.

"We are embarking on arguably England's greatest year of Test cricket ever and I can't wait for the back-to-back Ashes series," Swann wrote in his Sun column. "But I have one big worry - the state of my right elbow. It caused me discomfort again during our only warm-up match before the first Test and I had to leave the field.

"I'll be honest, the elbow is always a concern. It's been hanging over me for several years and, despite having an operation in 2009, the problem hasn't entirely gone away.

"It would be a massive pain in the backside if my wonky elbow forced me to miss any of the Tests against Australia. I'm absolutely determined to be available for what might be my final two Ashes series - and that means managing the elbow as well as possible.

"I really don't want to have another operation. For two weeks after my op, I was in bed with a machine keeping my arm in continual motion for 23 hours a day. It was a testing time - and poor old Tim Bresnan has been going through the same thing after his operation in America. This year of all years, I don't want the elbow to cause any problems. I want to be fit for as much Test cricket as possible and, fingers crossed, I will be."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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