Graham Thorpe

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Blog Posts by Graham Thorpe

  • England must not drop Cook

    Alastair Cook's place in the England side is coming under increasing scrutiny but I would definitely stick with the opener ahead of the third Test at The Oval.

     

    The Essex left-hander is a class act, and has achieved a considerable amount in his career already, and all of that at the age of just 25.

     

    Anyone who has 4238 Test runs to their name at such an early stage in their development must be a very special talent, and some people are far too impatient with their cricketers.

     

    Cook may have scored a lot of his runs early on in his career, but this is just a bad patch of form and nothing more serious.

     

    What is important is that Cook has shown he has the mentality and the discipline to cut it at international level, and the maturity to lead is country.

     

    There is no doubt that he will read the papers and feel under immense pressure as a result, and that does not help one bit.

     

    Make no mistake, England cricketers do read the press, and I can tell you first hand that it does affect

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  • Pakistan fielding amateurish

    England are a professional, well-drilled unit and the major difference between the hosts and Pakistan is the fielding.

     

    The tourists' fielding is absolutely atrocious, and their performance at Edgbaston was the worst I have ever seen from a Test match side in the field.

     

    It is a mental problem as well as a technical one, and Pakistan's standards seem to be getting increasingly worse.

     

    To some extent Waqar Younis's side can blame their inexperience or inability to adapt to English conditions, but it is a far greater issue than that.

     

    There is no doubt that the coaching is not as it should be in Pakistan, and that goes right down to the development sides.

     

    Fielding is equally as important as the other aspects of the game, and Salman Butt's men may not have always seen it as such.

     

    There have been some England sides over the years who have been very poor in the field, but I have never seen a team so collectively inept as this Pakistan XI.

     

    It must be the most demoralising thing

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  • Give KP time to come good

    I wouldn't pay much heed to the calls for Kevin Pietersen to be dropped or rested after another frustrating Test match. He is a fine player but everybody goes through spells when they are not scoring the runs expected of them.

     

    However, the key thing is whether he can turn the corner and I have no doubt he will. And when he does, he should go on a good, consistent run.

     

    He needs one big score on the board and more time at the crease. Let's hope that happens at Edgbaston this weekend.

     

    The one technical flaw you could point to is his vulnerability to the swinging ball. Pakistan were exposed by James Anderson's swing, but KP got caught out by Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul.

     

    If you are not on top of your game, you need to know where your off stump is and that's what the lads will be working on. You need to learn when to leave the ball, and when to play it late and underneath yourself.

     

    We have fierce competition for places in the middle order now, and Eoin Morgan has thrown his hat

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  • The end for Flintoff?

    It was disappointing but not surprising to hear that Andrew Flintoff will miss the whole season with his ongoing injury problems.

     

    I don't know the exact state of Fred's knee, but it is obviously not a good sign when you have been out for a year, as he has, and you keep suffering setbacks.

     

    Realistically, I cannot see him playing at the top level again for his country.

     

    It is not only the physical side, which has been well documented. There is also the mental aspect. He played through considerable pain during last summer's Ashes - at this stage in his life can he drive himself to do it again, and would he even want to?

     

    Anybody's fitness would be way down after a year on the sidelines, plus there would be some serious rustiness.

     

    You can never say never with Fred, but it is a big ask for him to find the physical and mental reserves to drag himself back to his old level of cricket.

     

    From England's point of view, it is very questionable whether they would even want him back. There

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  • Pakistan perfect challenge before Ashes

    It was a top performance by Pakistan against Australia at Headingley - their attack really looked like it had got it together.

     

    The biggest challenge for them is going to be their consistency. But they certainly shaped up very well against Australia and have shown they are capable of giving England a serious Test series.

     

    They've got quite a trio of bowlers and they work very well together so England will be practising very hard against the swinging ball. Handling that will be England's biggest challenge - Mohammad Asif going away from the bat and Mohammad Aamer coming back in.

     

    I still expect England to win the series, but I am expecting a hard battle and it will be interesting to see what plans England come up with to combat them. The main area where it will be won or lost is whether our batters can outthink their bowlers.

     

    It all depends whether our batsmen have a little bit more discipline; it will be interesting to see how all that unfolds.

     

    I agree with picking Eoin Morgan

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  • Hosting Pakistan ‘home’ matches a success

    I think that the first Test between Pakistan and Australia showed the ECB's decision to host the former's 'home' matches in England to be a success.

     

    The crowds for the first Test at Lord's were certainly decent. It will be interesting to see the numbers who turn up to watch them at Headingley, as there is a really strong Asian community up there, so I'm looking forward to seeing a bigger turnout.

     

    England was not the only option for them. They can also play Tests in Abu Dhabi, or in Dubai, but there are doubts as to whether they would get the same sort of crowds as they are getting here.

     

    I think that it was a good opportunity for the ECB, especially with Australia as the opposition, so I think everybody has won out of this series. There is certainly a few quid to be made out of it, which won't do any harm. They saw the opportunity to experiment, and it has worked.

     

    It's just a shame that supporters in Pakistan are not going to be able to see any international cricket in their own

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  • Afridi exit can usher in new era

    I'm not totally surprised by Shahid Afridi's decision to quit Test cricket, even if it comes after just one match as captain of the side.

     

    It's not unusual for controversy to follow Pakistan. It's just unusual that it's happened after their first game.

     

    Afridi said that he was unsure whether Test cricket was his game. To be honest, I have to agree, especially after some of the shots he played against Australia at Lord's. He just isn't cut out for the longer form of the game.

     

    He was probably put under some pressure by the PCB to come back into the Test side after his four-year retirement. I would put him down as a decent leader in one-dayers and Twenty20, and he will continue in the role at those levels. Splitting the captaincy does bring its own set of problems though.

     

    If you look at his attributes, Afridi has always been a one-day cricketer for me. He's never been prolific at Test level. Whenever he has excelled, it has always been in limited-over matches. For all his talents, I

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  • Big-hitting Strauss a revelation

    Andrew Strauss has been in and out of the England one-day side for a long time, but finally no one can question his ability.

     

    The England captain's 154 at Edgbaston was absolutely inspired, and the shots he played were of a man oozing confidence and with the talent to thrive in any format.

     

    A big part of being a successful top-order batsman is having unflinching conviction, and possessing the courage to go for your shots whatever the conditions.

     

    What made Strauss's innings in Birmingham all the more special was the fact that it came on a grassy wicket which Bangladesh were right in opting to bowl first on.

     

    There is no doubt that many batsmen would have played in a circumspect fashion, but Strauss is so at ease with his game that he was able to play positively, while not taking undue risks.

     

    Many people think that Strauss does not have the game to play Twenty20, but I disagree. You can never write a fine player off in any format, and the Middlesex man has a fine range of shots.

     

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  • What’s happened to Anderson the leader?

    The decline of James Anderson within the England ranks has been rather startling and the paceman must be wondering what is happening to his career.

     

    Over the last 18 months, the England management have talked incessantly about how important Anderson is to the team and how he is the leader of the bowling attack.

     

    That claim has proved to be entirely misleading.

     

    Anderson has been dropped from the Twenty20 side who are now the world's best, and now he has been 'rotated' in the series with Bangladesh.

     

    To see the Lancastrian confined to a watching brief was very worrying and, by not being clear to the public or the media about why he was omitted, the management have a lot to answer for.

     

    It is not good for team morale to simply 'rotate' your key players as it leads everyone to believe that they have been dropped. Which, given Anderson's shoddy form of late, is entirely believable.

     

    If Anderson was being rested, which coach Andy Flower implied in his post-match interviews, then the

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  • Pietersen’s demise of great concern

    Kevin Pietersen's form continues to be of great concern, and the 30-year-old's career is really not developing as it should be.

     

    Pietersen has not scored a one-day international 50 for 17 innings after his duck at Lord's - that's since November 2008, and it's simply not good enough for a player of his calibre.

     

    I have always been a huge fan of KP; his talent is monumental, but for some inexplicable reason he is not utilising it and converting it into runs, which is what every batsman is judged on.

     

    Pietersen could only muster 95 runs in the five-match series against Australia and, in my opinion, he has been superseded by Eoin Morgan as England's key player.

     

    Many have called for KP to take a break, and that has been enforced due to the thigh strain he sustained at Lord's, but I do not see that as a good thing.

     

    For too long, England players have put their relative successes and failures down to the international schedule, but what Pietersen and others need is matches.

     

    As the old

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