Swann arrived at Trent Bridge from his native Northants in 2005 keen for a fresh challenge and ready to challenge for an international call-up following an England A tour of Sri Lanka.
He proved an important part of the bowling attack which helped lift the Championship title in 2005 and showed a flair for robust middle and lower order batting, though he did not reach earlier heights. His four First-Class hundreds all came in his seasons with Northamptonshire, 97 being his best return for Notts.
The county’s leading wicket-taker during the run to the 2006 Twenty20 Cup Final, Swann also chipped in with half-centuries in three consecutive Championship innings in the middle of the summer, before an elbow injury which had required surgery in winter of 2005 resurfaced and restricted his bowling in the final month of the season.
Graeme really came to the fore with the white ball, as his probing off-breaks made him a constant threat; he also enjoyed success with the bat as an opener in the Twenty20 competitions. It proved enough for him to be recalled to international colours for the one-day tour of Sri Lanka, where he shone alongside his Notts team-mates Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom.
Swann made his Test debut against India in December 2008 and dismissed Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid in his first over, only the second player in Test history to take two wickets in his first over in Test cricket. His instinct for attacking from the outset earned him a reputation for taking wickets in the first over of a new spell.
Once established in the Test team, Swann was awarded an England central contract which limited his availability for Notts in First-Class cricket. He did continue to play an important role, when released by England, in the white-ball game and, with Stuart Broad, came back to help Notts win their first one-day trophy for 24 years when they beat Glamorgan in the Yorkshire Bank 40 final at Lords in 2013.
In December 2009, he became the first English spinner to take 50 wickets in a calendar year, culminating in back-to-back man of the match awards in the first two Tests of the tour of South Africa and rising to third place in the world rankings for bowlers.
In March 2010, Swann became the first English off-spinner since Jim Laker to take 10 wickets in a match when he achieved the feat in England's victory in the first Test in Bangladesh. In May, he was named ECB Cricketer of the Year. In 2011 Swann was part of the England team that claimed the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket and between July and October that year was the No. 1 ranked bowler in ODIs.
Graeme was part of England’s World T20 winning squad in 2010, playing in all five games. More significantly, he was a key player in Ashes series wins at home in 2009 and in 2010, a rare away series win in Australia.
He was mid-way through a much less successful tour in 2013 when a persistent and recurring elbow injury led to his immediate retirement from all forms of the game.
He finished his England career with 255 test wickets, second only to Derek Underwood among English slow bowlers, a further 104 in ODIs and 52 in international T20 matches. It says much about his ability to raise his game when it mattered that his test match average, 29.96 was better than his average in county cricket.
For Nottinghamshire, Graeme Swann took 160 First-Class wickets, with a best of 7-100, at an average of 34.05; in List-A he recorded 68 wickets at 24.41 and an economy rate of just 4.01. His T20 account stands at 38 wickets at the remarkable average of just 18.10.
For both country and country he was an excellent close catcher – usually at second slip – and a more than useful batsman.
After his playing career, Swann moved seamlessly into media work, joining the Test Match Special team as an expert summariser. He also took part in the 2018 series of BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, partnered by professional Oti Mabuse. He is the lead singer of the band Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations which plays gigs around Nottinghamshire.
Although Graeme is from Northamptonshire, his family roots are in the North-East of England – his father, Ray, comes from Northumberland and played cricket for that county before moving south – which could explain his choice of football teams to support, Newcastle United and Blyth Spartans. His brother Alex was also a First-Class cricketer at Northants before moving into journalism with the local paper.