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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Friday, 24 September 2010 11:59 UK

Graeme Swann 'did not want to play' Pakistan at Lord's

Graeme Swann
Swann took 11 wickets in the five-match series

Spinner Graeme Swann has revealed he was one of a number of England players who almost pulled out of Monday's one-dayer against Pakistan at Lord's.

Fixing allegations against both teams after last Friday's ODI at The Oval created turmoil in the dressing room.

"I didn't want to play at all in the one-dayer on Monday," Swann stated.

"I won't lie about that, I was dead against playing. I wasn't alone, plenty of others had strong reservations. I couldn't wait for the games to end."

The final day of the fourth and final Test at Lord's in August had been overshadowed by claims Pakistan's bowlers had purposely overstepped for no-balls - causing shockwaves through the sport.

A month later, the one-day international at the same famous ground was played out against the backdrop of a fresh scandal.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt had accused England of throwing the match at The Oval for "enormous amounts of money". The England and Wales Cricket Board has denied the allegations.

Butt's remarks came after the International Cricket Council had opened an investigation into "scoring patterns" by Pakistan batsmen in the same game. Writing in The Sun, Swann said his reluctance to play for his country at the home of cricket was "a dreadful feeling and one I never want to experience again."

Ijaz Butt's comments were as offensive as they could possibly be... we felt powerless as players

Graeme Swann

The bowler added that he had to be persuaded by England captain Andrew Strauss that "the best thing we could do was get on with it as a team and make sure we won the series. He was proved to be right."

Swann also claimed the England team had been subjected to unpleasant "taunts" on leaving The Oval three days before the Lord's match.

"People wearing the green shirts of Pakistan were slagging us off. It wound us up but added to the feeling of euphoria on Wednesday night when we won the final match to clinch the series," Swann said.

"I'm relieved the series against Pakistan is over. With all the claims flying around, there were times when I just wanted the summer to go away, even though I've been bowling better than at any stage in my career in recent weeks."

Swann was England's star bowler in the series with 11 wickets and has now risen to number three in the world one-day rankings.

On Thursday, the ECB announced the squad to defend the Ashes in Australia this winter, with Swann, shortlisted for world player of the year, included.

But earlier in the day the national board had confirmed it would take Butt to court if it does not get a "full and unreserved apology" from the PCB chief.

Nottinghamshire off-spinner Swann added: "Mr Butt's comments were as offensive as they could possibly be. They went against everything I stand for as a professional sportsman.

Every time we went out of the hotel people passed remarks against us

Shahid Afridi
Pakistan captain

"We felt powerless as players because as soon as somebody says something like that, and it is read by cricket followers, our names are sullied.

"You can't go around accusing people and pointing fingers with completely unsubstantiated claims. In the civilised world, it is not something that should happen.

"I hope Mr Butt sees sense and retracts his claims otherwise there must be severe consequences for him."

Swann is turning his attention to a four-day bonding trip with the Ashes squad and management.

"The players won't be told the destination until we arrive at the airport. I just hope we're going to Las Vegas or the Munich Beer Festival."

Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi called the scandal-laden tour the "most difficult" of his 14-year international career as the team staged a low-key return home after four gruelling months away.

Afridi said: "It was tough because of the controversies and became very difficult to cope with, because every time we went out of the hotel people passed remarks against us."



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see also
England warn Butt of legal action
23 Sep 10 |  England
Panesar & Tremlett in Ashes squad
23 Sep 10 |  England
Morgan seals England series win
22 Sep 10 |  England
Strauss demands strong ICC action
23 Sep 10 |  England
England demand apology from Butt
21 Sep 10 |  England
Swann shortlisted for ICC award
20 Sep 10 |  Cricket
Strauss outraged by fixing claims
20 Sep 10 |  England
Pakistan in England 2010
07 Sep 10 |  Cricket


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