England cricketer Graeme Swann, who sensationally retired earlier this week, has caused a media storm by claiming some players "have no idea how far up their own backsides they are."
The comments were reported by the Daily Mail's Paul Newman and have drawn a mixed reaction from pundits, with question marks still in the minds of many as to the timing of Swann's retirement.
It'll dawn on Swann that people will always now think of him as the bloke who walked out at 3-0 down. Not a good epitaph on a fine career.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) December 22, 2013
Swann told reporters:
Some people playing at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are and it will bite them on the a*** one day. When it does, I hope they will look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on. No names.
I've been privileged to play international cricket and it really annoys me when people take it for granted and get above their station because they shouldn't. I hope people look back and say, 'Yes, he did always play with a smile on his face and enjoyed himself—and he walked when he nicked it!'
While some who know Swann have come out to claim the comments were not aimed at his England international teammates, all media present at the conference have taken the interpretation that it was a warning to former colleagues.
Swann's controversial timing of his comments will doubtlessly help him secure a long-term future in the media, but will damage his image in the mind of many supporters:
I know Swanny & who he is talking about & it's not his team mates look at the oppo. Pringle jumped to the wrong conclusion #firestarter— Darren Bicknell (@darrenbicknell) December 23, 2013
BREAKING: Graeme Swann has lashed out at his England team-mates for being 'up their backsides'...what a little worm. #Ashes— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 22, 2013
Aussie coach Lehmann tells of his "surprise" at Swann decision; "it's mid- tour...I don't know what's going on..." pic.twitter.com/FJaOS5uB8S— Dan Roan (@danroan) December 22, 2013
@mrdanwalker I think I believe the man himself over the English media looking for a cheap story!— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) December 23, 2013
When his retirement was first announced on Saturday night in the UK, the decision was greeted by many accusations that Swann was taking the easy option in the face of what has been an embarrassing tour for English cricket.
While other players may choose to call it a day after the series, it is the decision to leave his colleagues to fight on with two games to play that has annoyed many pundits and supporters.
As hinted in the Daily Mail article, the easy link that will be made of Swann's comments is that he was referring to Kevin Pietersen, with whom he is said to have shared an uneasy relationship for some time.
Pietersen has been accused of arrogance and selfishness on many occasions in the past, as noted by the Telegraph's Nick Hoult, with his individual approach to Test cricket not always in keeping with the expectations of many observers.
Whatever the intended meaning behind Swann's comments, he is clever enough to know the reaction they will cause. It may serve him well in the long-term, but there is a danger of his actions damaging his largely positive image in the eyes of many England fans.