Graeme Swann’s New Book: The Hilarious Bits

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Swann makes a face during a photo-op in Hyderabad earlier this week.

Swann makes a face during a photo-op in Hyderabad earlier this week.

Graeme Swann, spin bowler, tweeter and joker extraordinaire, will launch his autobiography tomorrow.

The Breaks Are Off, My Autobiography covers Swann's immense problems with authority, and how the highly talented spinner overcame them to establish himself in the England side.

Here are the good bits from the book serialised by The Sun.

On a bust-up with Rodney Marsh:

I had a big bust-up with Rod Marsh at the new ECB Academy in Adelaide in 2001-02, when I was part of the first intake of players.

Rodney Marsh

Rodney Marsh

Marsh, the legendary former Aussie wicketkeeper who ran the academy, was telling us what was expected.

With the formalities finished, our physio Kirk Russell mentioned that Robbie Williams was playing in town.

Then Rod demanded: "Who the f*** is Robbie Williams?"

To this day I don't know why I did it but I just looked at him and, in a mock-Aussie drawl, replied: "He's a f****** singer, you ignorant c***!"

Know when you've totally misread a situation?

Rather than roars of laughter, my response was met with a collective gasp.

I tried to dig myself out of my 100-metre hole by politely explaining what Robbie Williams did for a living — but the damage was already done.

On his forgettable England debut in 1999

After being told I was playing, I didn't even ring home excitedly to tell my parents. My England debut made me feel like an imposter and a fraudster.

We won the game and I bowled five overs for 24 runs before captain Nasser Hussain took me off, saying: "I'm putting Graeme Hick on because he doesn't turn it as much as you."

I've never asked Nasser what he meant but, reading between the lines, I think it meant he thought I was rubbish.

Then, fielding on the boundary, someone threw one of those huge South African sausages and it hit me on the back of the neck.

I picked up the piece of meat and shaped to throw it back.

"What you gonna f****** do?" one of the Afrikaans spectators goaded.

I simply took a big bite and held the sausage triumphantly above my head.

The crowd seemed to love it and I was given a standing ovation every time I touched the ball.

It was the first time I realised the power of getting the crowd on your side.

On how Pietersen's captaincy compared to Strauss'

Perhaps the reason I prefer Andrew Strauss' captaincy to Kev's is that he is very level-headed on the field.

I lose my rag fairly easily, so the captains I've enjoyed playing under are the ones who don't get flustered in the middle even when the pressure is on.

I need someone who can calm me down but Kev could get quite wound up. At one point in India, his leadership was reduced to screaming "F****** bowl f****** straight" at everyone.

The second Kevin was appointed captain in August 2008 something had to give because he and coach Peter Moores were so diametrically opposed.

Kev was adamant that Moores was a county coach who couldn't cut the mustard at the top level.

Kevin tried to get Moorsey fired, only for it to go spectacularly wrong for him, too, and both of them ended up losing their jobs.

On Andrew Flintoff

Feb 1999: Graeme Swann, Andrew Flintoff, Darren Maddy, Matt Windows and Robert Keys of the England A squad dive into a puddle during the England A tour of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Feb 1999: Graeme Swann, Andrew Flintoff, Darren Maddy, Matt Windows and Robert Keys of the England A squad dive into a puddle during the England A tour of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

A rugby team was having an underpants party in a bar in Harare while getting merrily bladdered.

They all sported briefs and nothing else, so Fred debagged one of them and gave a thumbs-up to signify the playful nature of his action.

Taking it in good spirit, this lad turned around with a smile and went to high-five Fred.

But Steve Harmison caught a glimpse of a raised hand and got the wrong end of the stick.

To a Geordie, once arms are raised, it's dust-up time, so he waded in. Suddenly, it all kicked off. Before we knew it, the manager herded us all outside and roared: "Don't fight in my bar."

Outside on the lawn, nobody in our team really wanted to fight whereas the rugby lads seemed considerably more keen. Thankfully, Fred put an end to it.

As a pair of rugby players came at him, he managed to grab them both, secure them in headlocks and sit back down on the grass without loosening his grip.

"Now then," he said. "Who else wants a row with Uncle Freddie?"

On Phil Mustard

Phil Mustard, the Durham wicketkeeper, was a fine source of amusement on our tour of New Zealand in early 2008.

The Colonel, as he is known, would grab any opportunity to have fun.

We were on a minibus back from training one day when the radio ran a story about New Zealand's new wild-boy Jesse Ryder being out for three months after severing a tendon in his arm on a glass door.

The incident happened at 5.30am and the players and coach Peter Moores were aghast that Jesse was still sinking shots at that time.

"Aye, that's strange," said the Colonel. "He was fine when I left him at five."

Nasser Hussain

Nasser Hussain

On dealing with Nasser Hussain's famous temper

During the Cape Town Test, Hussain thought I was some sort of Antichrist.

All-rounder Gavin Hamilton and I were watching on the viewing balcony as Mike Atherton played Allan Donald beautifully.

I said to Gavin: "Donald's not getting it through today, is he?"

Little did I know that Nasser was sitting right in front of me.

"Swann, f****** shut up. What are you saying, you f****** idiot?" Nasser spat.

"Calm down, Nass," I said. "You surely can't believe in that tempting fate rubbish?"

He did and so did I when Donald reduced us from 115-0 to 141-3.

One of the wickets to fall was that of Nasser himself and I genuinely felt the collapse was my fault. At tea, there was a stony silence. I was sitting with Gavin and Alex Tudor when Nass threw his food on the table and snorted: "All right, Swann, you clown, you think you're a comedian — well, make me f****** laugh, tell me a joke."

Everyone seemed to freeze. But being cocksure, I took up the challenge.

"Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are having a light-sabre fight," I began. "De-de-jeesh, de-de-jeesh. Then Vader leans in and says, "Luke, I know what you're getting for Christmas."

Sssh-boo, sssh-boo. "That's impossible, how can this be?" the young Skywalker asks.

"Luke, I just know," Vader replies. "I have felt your presents."

Everyone knows that joke now although I'm pretty confident I invented it. The other lads must have thought Nasser was going to kill me but, when I got to the punch line, everyone fell about laughing and it broke the ice.

(Read more in The Sun)