England off spinner Graeme Swann has paid an emotional tribute to his very good friend Andrew Strauss, who announced his retirement from international cricket on Tuesday.
Swann said he was shocked when he came to know about Strauss' decision to quit, and added that he is proud to have the former England captain as his mate, whom he knows since his childhood.
"It came as a huge shock when we were told after the game on Tuesday evening that Andrew Strauss was going to retire. Straussy, with typical class and thoughtfulness, had written individual letters to the players," Swann wrote in his column for The Sun.
"I chose not to read mine in the dressing room as I had a feeling I might not be able to maintain my composure. Instead, I went to the car and had a read before I drove home. I'd rather not divulge the exact contents but it was a very sentimental moment because Straussy has been a dear friend for a long time," he added.
"We go back 12 or 13 years to when we were kids and sharing a room at the England Academy in Adelaide. I love Straussy to bits. He's been captain in all but a couple of my Tests and there is nobody I admire or respect more. I couldn't be more proud to call him a mate," he said.
Swann said Strauss' final days as England captain were far from being ideal but believes he retired with his held high and on his own terms.
"Straussy's final fortnight wasn't ideal and it's a shame circumstances outside his control led to that situation. But I hadn't seen any diminished potency in his captaincy. I know he hasn't been scoring the huge runs he expected of himself but I always felt a sense of serene calm whenever he and Cooky walked to the wicket to open," Swann wrote.
"His head is held high. Straussy took us to No 1 and without him we would have been nowhere near. He's gone on his own terms, he's not been hounded out. Yes, Andrew Strauss says goodbye at the top," he concluded.