Dunedin: Graeme Swann's troublesome right elbow may have forced him out of the Test series against New Zealand but the England spinner has been told the required surgery is "relatively simple" and is eyeing a May return. Swann was a surprise omission from England's team before the toss for the first Test against New Zealand at University Oval on Wednesday and was replaced by left arm spinner Monty Panesar.
England later confirmed the 33-year-old had been ruled out of the series and would need surgery on the elbow in the United States. James Tredwell has been called into the squad for the remainder of the New Zealand series.
"If I don't have the surgery I know it's more or less curtains. So the fact that I can have the surgery and I have been told that it is relatively simple, and touch wood it will be, I will wake up on the other end and everything will be great. I'm very much buoyed by the success the last time I had it done. My elbow was in a lot worse shape then than it is now so I am very confident I will bounce back in a short space of time and be fighting fit," Swann said after play was abandoned for the day without a ball being bowled because of persistent rain.
Swann was reticent to put a timetable on a possible return though hinted he would like to be available when England host New Zealand in May and June. Alastair Cook's side then play the one-day Champions Trophy and then have back-to-back Ashes series against Australia.
"I still haven't played a Test match against the Kiwis. I'm going to be optimistic and say I will get a chance to play them at home. I haven't seen the timetable but I will need to speak to the surgeon and he will give me a better indication," the 50-Test veteran said.
The elbow had caused him problems since his first surgery but it flared up again in England's four day match against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown last week.
"It came about quite suddenly. I have struggled intermittently with a sore elbow for about four years but it never manifested itself into a dire predicament for me. Then in Queenstown before the game I felt an unusual pain that I hadn't felt since before the last operation and that rapidly got worse throughout the game."
Swann had scans on the elbow when the team arrived in Dunedin and the results, after they had been seen by the specialist in the United States, confirmed he needed the procedure to "clean up" floating bone fragments in the joint. The operation was similar to the one England team mate Tim Bresnan had last month, Swann said.
"It doesn't seem anywhere as near as dire as the last time when it felt like a bomb had gone off in there. The fact you have to have surgery means you have a pretty serious injury so I was hoping that I would get to the end of my playing days and not have to go back under the knife. Everyone hopes that. It just suddenly flared up and the scans said it needed to be sorted. It is a huge year for English cricket and a huge year for me but if this means I take a more active part in it, so it's something I have to do," he added.