The Breaks Are Off by Graeme Swann
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It’s difficult not to hold a soft spot for Graeme Swann.
Since his Test debut three and a half years ago, ‘Swanny’, as he’s affectionately known, has become one of England’s key cricketers in all formats of the game. In addition to developing into the country’s most revered spin bowler for decades, his off breaks were pivotal in England’s winning two Ashes series and the Twenty20 World Cup.
But what’s really endeared Swann to the cricket-watching public is the sense of fun he brings to the game, both on and off the pitch.
Swann’s aggressive bowling and devil-may-care attitude with the bat make him eminently watchable at either end of the crease. Away from the field, his Ashes video diary became a big YouTube hit, with Swann starring in an irreverent behind-the-scenes guide to the England cricket team’s tour of Australia. Given this aperitif, the levels of expectancy for The Breaks Are Off, re-issued in paperback last month, are understandably high.
It doesn’t disappoint. As early as his acknowledgments, he provides a few chortles by referring to his England bowling team-mate Jimmy Anderson as a ‘miserable monobrowed Burnley paceman’ and relaying the story of his publisher telling Swann that he looks like he’s ‘chewing a Marmite flavoured wasp’ when he bowls.
But as with most autobiographies, an author’s reflections on his career low points are often its most enthralling feature. Swann’s take on his unhappy experience in the England camp in 2001 and his exit from Northamptonshire in 2004 give the impression of a man who thought his time would never come.
In fact, Swann is disarmingly honest throughout, either condemning his own bowling performances as ‘dreadful’, or simply claiming that he wasn’t ready for international cricket when first called up to the England squad.
Swann’s bluntness even spreads as far as some of the England cricketing fraternity and he provides a few interesting tales of altercations with teammates from his first stint in the international set-up.
He may not have endured the range of ups and downs that make some sporting memoirs such a gripping read, but Swann’s frankness and jovial outlook ensure The Breaks Are Off is never less than entertaining. Sometimes a story is worth telling simply because of who is telling it and one fancies that following the current T20 World Cup, there might be a few more to add soon too.
We’ve teamed up with Sports Book of the Month & have two copies of The Breaks Are Off to give away.
To win this week’s sports book, go to their website (www.sportsbookofthemonth.com) and answer the following question:
How many wickets did Graeme Swann take in the last Ashes series?