All Out Cricket - Swanny's Diary

Featured News | 11th May 2009

Notts spinner Graeme Swann documents his recovery from elbow surgery in the latest installment of his All Out Cricket diary.

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Friday April 10
Just three weeks after my elbow surgery I am in full flow with Notts and our pre season training. My return to bowling started last week and I’m happy to report a pain-free arm, even when flaying the bat in the nets. I am yet to convince the physio I am ready for a match, and so instead I am getting to know the fitness coach very well as the pair of us hit the gym every spare minute the day affords us. The lack of floating bone in my arm is a revelation to me, I’d completely forgotten what life was like with two healthy arms, and so this fitness isn’t the usual pain in the arse, but actually a rather enjoyable experience as my figure starts to take on a Schwarzeneggeresque appearance.

Saturday April 11
A quick glance at the Premier League table today has for the first time led me to believe that the Geordies are in dire straits this season. Until now I have been calm in my belief that the corner would soon be turned, and last week’s reappearance of Alan Shearer on Tyneside filled me with even more confidence. However, to only eke out a point out of a decidedly average Stoke City team today has left me wondering where it has all gone wrong. I can only equate their plight to the Notts relegation season of 2006, just one season after winning the Championship. For us it was a massive kick up the backside and a springboard for resurgence, so I only hope that if the worst comes to the worst this season then the Toon will bounce back twice as strong next year. Failing this I will be doing my FA badge and hoping for the managers job in a few years, once I’ve had my fill with cricket.

Easter Sunday
A sunny day off, a Cadbury Easter egg in the fridge, and The Great Escape on the TV. This is living.

Bank Holiday Monday
A true gem of a day for the boys as Kevin Paxton, our strength and conditioning coach, makes a true howler. After putting the boys through the speed tests, and the fat tests, and the weight tests, there was only one thing left; the dreaded bleep test. This archaic fitness yardstick has been around since fat blokes used to play rugby and before football became a multimillionaire pastime, but it has somehow survived better judgment and scientific research to remain the single most hated part of a cricketer’s life. All the lads were lined up, nervously laughing and focusing on the next 15 minutes of torture, only for ‘our Kevlar’ to open up his CD case and realise he’d replaced the bleep CD with ‘Dance Anthems of the Eighties’. Amongst jubilant scenes, the test was cancelled, and the boys sent home as a red-faced S&C coach was left to pick up the cones on his own. Brilliant.

Tuesday April 14

A feature of April is the arrival of all the new kit for the players from their respective sponsors, and the inevitable comparisons that take place to see who has the best bats. Controversy usually reigns as each man sees the beauty in his own sticks, only to chastise and humiliate those around him who obviously have inferior blades. It is always the same, friendships are lost, anger swells and even a few blows are exchanged. I see it all as futile childish behaviour. My bats are the best. Full stop. And I will fight anyone in the car park who disagrees. Apart from Darren Pattinson, who would destroy me.

Wednesday April 15

I don’t know what it is about me and treadmills. Recently I have taken a couple of tumbles when reaching the higher speeds of my training programme, resulting in embarrassing and usually painful meetings with the ground. And today I had another strange episode involving said machine. Halfway through my running session, parched and having exhausted my water bottle, I quickly jumped off the machine to refill. I left the belt rolling and my towel and locker key with the machine, only to return 30 seconds later to see an old lady attempting to climb on board. I quickly pressed the emergency stop button, expecting to receive grateful thanks, but instead got a barrage of abuse from the purple-haired gasbag, who claimed I was hogging the machine. I pointed out the 20 spare treadmills lined up next to us, only for her to grab my towel and throw it at me, positively spitting with rage. I wasn’t sure how to react, but am happy to report I took the moral high road and just smiled and walked away shaking my head. Let’s just hope it was her Micra I reversed into in the car park on the way home.

Thursday April 16
Premier League Darts is our fun for the evening as Ryan Sidebottom’s sponsors sort us out VIP tickets. It is a great night, with Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor coming back from 7-3 down to share the points in a seven-all thriller. This also saves me losing a little wager with Wayne Noon, our assistant manager, and so it is a happy Swann who goes home to enthral his missus with stories of the evening. It turns out that said female is suitably non-plussed with my stories, and it’s only after a little probing that I realise her antipathy towards me comes from my forgetting that I’d promised to take her out to dinner. However, my spare bed is a comfy one so all is not bad news.

Friday April 17
Today is a first; a pre-season game that I am actually enjoying from start to finish. Usually they are freezing, soulless affairs, with no emphasis placed on the result, with head coaches just looking for their players to show a touch of form or potential before the new season starts. I dare say this is how the other 21 players found today, but for me it was a chance to prove to the physio, coach and more importantly myself that my newly-shaped elbow is ready for action. This I managed with a brief, albeit frenetic innings at the end of our 50 overs against Middlesex, and then seven pain-free overs. This may not seem like much but it was enough to belay any fears that surgery would have messed up my action, a weight that is happily now off my shoulders. I celebrated in style back at home with boiled eggs; my only consistently successful sortie into the culinary world.

Saturday April 18
It’s amazing how, with only a four-week break, a day’s cricket can make your body ache in all manner of weird and wonderful places. Yesterday seemed like a breeze, and yet this morning I had sore legs, a stiff neck and, strangest of all, bruised toes. I don’t remember being hit by the ball, I wore old, comfortable cricket boots and yet the three little digits on my left foot look like they’ve been run over by a milk float. It is only when basking in a hot shower that my mind wanders back to a surreal sleepwalk I had last night that only ended when my game of football in the kitchen was ruined when I punted the fridge. I really should get my midnight ramblings sorted, especially now that they are leading to injury, or at the very least should start wearing bed shorts. This would potentially avert the disgusted looks from the old lady who lives over the back from me, and also regain the trust of my cats who now view me as an actual lunatic.

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Graeme Swann writes every month for All Out Cricket

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