Graham Thorpe

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Blog Posts by Graham Thorpe

  • Harmison must play at Lord’s

    I would pick Steve Harmison for the second Test at Lord's regardless of Andrew Flintoff's injury situation.


    With England likely to pick only one spinner, Harmison should come in for Monty Panesar, but it looks like the selectors might go for Graham Onions instead - both will play if Flintoff is ruled out.


    I'm not sure why Onions was kept at Cardiff during the first Test when he could have been playing a County game for Durham, getting some overs under his belt.


    England bowled very poorly at Cardiff, and only took six wickets in the game. We need something different to put Australia under pressure, and Harmison is the kind of aggressive bowler who can do that.


    If he returns there will be a lot of expectation, but I think he will perform well as there is a world of difference between playing on tour and in England.


    He has bowled plenty of overs this season and has got into a good groove. It is a far cry from picking him without much match practice for an away Test in unfamiliar

    Read More »from Harmison must play at Lord’s
  • Cardiff Test holds the key

    The first Ashes Test at Cardiff will represent the key match because it sets the tone for the entire series, and making a fast start cannot be underestimated.


    Historically, Ashes series are remembered for events which happened in the first Test, and even key incidents are recalled more prominently than others.


    For example, when Steve Harmison fired a huge wide down the leg side in the 2006/07 series in Australia, it exemplified England's ragged performances from that point on.


    Equally, in 2005 Harmison struck Justin Langer with a real corker and that really shook the Australia side up.


    The England team to play in Cardiff picks itself in my opinion and, with the pitch there expected to turn, it looked to be a straight toss-up between Adil Rashid and Monty Panesar for the second spinner slot.


    I would definitely pick two spinners to play at Cardiff, and Graeme Swann is a shoo-in after his tremendous winter and start to the summer in an England shirt.


    Clearly, with Rashid being

    Read More »from Cardiff Test holds the key
  • Time for the coaches to deliver

    The lead up to an Ashes series is among the most tense, pressured periods of a cricketer's career, and you need the support of the coaches and staff around you.


    It is at this point in both England and Australia's build ups for the series that the respective managements really have to earn their money.


    The huge backroom staffs which have become a big part of the professional game are often under scrutiny, but this is where they must demonstrate their value.


    I would personally be trying to keep preparations as simple and as regular as possible, to ensure that the players feel relaxed and at home.


    If I was in charge I would be studying the opposition's batsmen and bowlers individually, and feeding all of that information back to the squad.


    It is critical from the batsmen's perspective to know exactly what to expect from the bowlers they are due to face and that cannot be underestimated.


    For the bowling unit, I would incorporate a lot of specific practice, in particular working

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  • Comfort in Vaughan closure

    Michael Vaughan's decision to retire finally gives his situation closure; before his decision the former captain's reputation loomed over the current squad. It simply had to be resolved.


    What he hoped would be a glorious season for Yorkshire and England has not turned out how he would have wished.


    He can have no regrets, which is a nice feeling for anyone choosing to retire. He gave it his best shot and had every chance to succeed to earn one more run-out against Australia, but it did not work out.


    I think he has made the right choice:is fitness has been a doubt all season, and his lack of runs proved to be the crucial factor in his decision to retire.


    Obviously it is slightly disappointing that he has chosen to retire so early in the season, but it is very understandable.


    What this decision does is give clarity to the team selections, and enables the current leaders to plan and prepare properly, purely based on current form - because the last thing the England squad needed

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  • Uncertainty lies with Australia

    It seems strange to be coming into an Ashes series with most of the selection question marks hanging over Australia, and not England.


    The only debate for the hosts will be whether Adil Rashid or Monty Panesar will be best suited to the second spinner slot, if that is required in the first Test at Cardiff.


    For Australia, it is a matter of speculation whether Brett Lee will find the form required to warrant his selection, while Shane Watson is a major doubt.


    In Peter Siddle, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, Ricky Ponting has a fine collection of seam bowlers at his disposal, but only Clark has real experience of bowling in this country.


    Geoff Lawson, a player and coach at international level, has said that he believes Lee is not sharp enough to warrant his place anymore, but I am not sure about that at all.


    The veteran paceman is still quick, has taken 300 Test wickets, and his experience may prove invaluable if Siddle and Hilfenhaus, for example, do not rise

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  • No harm in picking Steve

    I would still pick Steve Harmison in my England Ashes squad ahead of Graham Onions; he should be well ahead of him, especially against Australia.


    For sure, the big paceman should be miles ahead of Tim Bresnan also, and I know who Australia would rather face in an Ashes series.


    I would most certainly have Harmison in that squad, but I think he has still got a chance if he impresses for England Lions in the warm-up match against Australia.


    The selectors are clearly keeping him in the loop, and hedging their bets with his performances - don't be surprised if he gets called up during the summer.


    Harmison would be a great option to go to if England pick up any injuries in their seam attack, and history would suggest that they probably will.


    It is all about the depth of the squad, and the wider pool of players, as to who the two sides can call upon to make a difference: Harmison could have a key role to play.


    When the Durham paceman has his droughts of form, it is usually due to

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  • Sri Lanka to go the distance

    You have to say, South Africa are looking very hot in the ICC World Twenty20, and they are most people's favourites to win the tournament, but I think Sri Lanka will do it.


    Pakistan are the outsiders in my view, along with West Indies, but my personal tip would have to be Sri Lanka, who have played outstandingly well.


    Kumar Sangakkara's side have a lot of Twenty20 experience, and possess by far the best bowling attack out of any of the teams.


    Ajantha Mendis is an absolute superstar, while the wily, veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is also key to strangling sides in the middle overs.


    You would be stupid not to fancy South Africa as being the favourites and they are a real class act, particularly in the field where they are the best in the world.


    South Africa are odds-on with many bookmakers after their convincing victory over India and consistency throughout the tournament, but my dark horses are the Sri Lankans.


    Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene showed again in the

    Read More »from Sri Lanka to go the distance
  • England not brave enough

    England put a competitive score on the board against the West Indies, but they should have been braver when they batted.


    The England management decided to omit Dimitri Mascarenhas in preference for Adil Rashid, and I disagreed with that move.


    I am convinced that we needed firepower, and it was a mistake to leave out Mascarenhas, who is capable of serious lower-order hitting when required.


    To be fully committed to the task, I think England's batsmen should have chanced their arm and taken the attack to West Indies much more aggressively.


    I would have liked to see Paul Collingwood send in Graeme Swann or Stuart Broad ahead of James Foster to up the tempo and enable bigger shots to be played when it mattered.


    The score needed boosting from what was a par score at The Oval, to a total that would have really tested West Indies.


    It is the nature of Twenty20 that it is very unpredictable and the fact that the match was reduced should not have surprised England.


    Teams need to be

    Read More »from England not brave enough
  • The tournament is really starting to hot up now

    Australia being knocked out after defeats to first West Indies then Sri Lanka is just the icing on the cake in terms of the tournament's intrigue and unpredictability.


    In terms of the ICC World Twenty20 as a whole, the tournament is really starting to hot up now. We have already had absolutely everything: shocks, close contests and entertaining cricket.


    Netherlands beating England was obviously a great surprise to everyone, but Ireland beating Bangladesh on Monday was an equally big upset in my opinion.


    Against West Indies they got 'Chris-Gayled', essentially, and there was little they could do because they are a side who can beat anyone if their big players - namely skipper Gayle - are firing.


    In their second match, they came up against what I regard as a fantastic bowling attack from Sri Lanka.


    They have everything: a left-arm seamer in Isuru Udana, a right-arm swing bowler in Angelo Mathews, the unorthodox bowling of Lasith Malinga and two superb spinners in Muttiah

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  • New Zealand my tip for glory

    You might be surprised, but my pick for winners of the World Twenty20 are New Zealand.


    The Black Caps have got some big names playing for them and plenty of IPL experience in their ranks - which will count for a lot.


    Ross Taylor in particular has impressed me. He's got good experience in the format and seems to produce the goods more often than not.


    Another reason for backing New Zealand is the English pitches, which will be fairly similar to the ones they're used to back home.


    Andy Moles's side will make many other teams look sloppy in comparison to their superb fielding and discipline as an all-round unit.


    Jesse Ryder and Brendan McCullum are exceptional players in the format, and it will take a very good side to match that sort of firepower.


    Twenty20 is a very different game to Test cricket, but if England can mount a serious challenge in the next couple of weeks it will do their Ashes chances no harm at all.


    Paul Collingwood and his men are outsiders, but if they can

    Read More »from New Zealand my tip for glory


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