Graham Thorpe

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  • The great Tait debate

    Shaun Tait is a match-winning paceman, and they are a very rare breed, so the Australian's fragile body makes for an intriguing debate as to how he should be employed.

     

    It is a common misconception that Tait has slammed the door shut on playing Test cricket and, as he said after the final ODI at Lord's, he has not announced any form of retirement.

     

    The paceman hit 100.1mph at the home of cricket, and his four-for proved yet again that he can be the difference, with a quick flurry of top-order wickets ripping out the heart of the opposition.

     

    Of course Australia can get by without Tait for some matches, but the prospect of him bowling 100mph at the WACA or in Brisbane is frankly irresistible.

     

    The clamour for the fast bowler to play in the Ashes will increase steadily and, if Australia are brave enough to persuade him to play in the series against Pakistan, he could even be fit enough to do so.

     

    Tait has not played a first-class game since late 2008; but even if he could get

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  • No England spot for flashy Flintoff

    Andrew Flintoff hopes to return to action before the end of the English summer, but the national selectors should resist giving him a return.

     

    There will be those who believe that on reputation, Flintoff should walk straight back into the side, but I could not disagree more with that kind of approach.

     

    The all-rounder has been out of action since last summer due to knee surgery, and the 32-year-old has become more of a celebrity than a cricketer since the final Test at The Oval.

     

    Flintoff cannot expect to breeze back into a side which has just won the World Twenty20 and is forming a formidable unit in one-day international cricket.

     

    This kind of situation is where the selectors earn their money because there will inevitably be a clamour from the media to bring the Lancastrian straight back in.

     

    I simply cannot see where Flintoff would slot into the current side with Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad performing so consistently in both limited overs formats.

     

    England are benefiting

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  • England outclassing very average Australia

    Ricky Ponting must be wondering what has happened to Australia because they have become a distinctly average side and England are embarrassing them.

     

    Australia are still ranked as the top one-day side in the world, but that is frankly absurd given this current batch of players turning out in the green and gold.

     

    England have thoroughly outclassed the Old Enemy and you don't win seven ODIs on the trot without being a mighty fine side, particularly when the opposition are top tier.

     

    Andrew Strauss's team are proving themselves to be everything that Australia once were: clinical, efficient, ruthless and very strong spirited.

     

    Of course, England had a worrying collapse yesterday which almost saw them capitulate from a comfortable position, but they still had enough to pull through and clinch the win.

     

    Australia showed some of their old resilience and stubbornness, but this current side simply do not have the class or the talent to compete as they once did.

     

    Make no mistake about it,

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  • Don’t squander Rashid’s talent

    Adil Rashid is a cricketer I rate very highly, but I am deeply concerned that his potential is not being utilised effectively.

     

    It has been a long standing issue within English cricket that whenever a talented, young spinner bursts on to the scene, he is immediately plunged into the side.

     

    The hype which surrounds the likes of Rashid, Samit Patel, and before that Chris Schofield, is not healthy and can be pretty suffocating.

     

    I have worked with Rashid extensively for the England Lions, and the Yorkshireman has got it all: an art for spinning the ball, a good work rate, strong batting and a smart pair of hands in the field.

     

    It has persistently baffled me how the leg-spinner has missed out on what I would call 'development tours' such as the West Indies and Bangladesh.

     

    England have played the Tigers both home and away in the last six months, and it is frankly ridiculous that Rashid has not been present in either series.

     

    How is the Yorkshireman expected to make an impact and

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  • Australia ODI series all about money

    There is no doubt that England's upcoming one-day series with Australia is all about money - that is how the international schedule now works.

     

    It's a shame that fixture lists of top sides are now pretty much dictated by revenue and politics, but there is no greater draw than England against the Old Enemy.

     

    The ECB want bums on seats, and they have been very sneaky in capitalising on the fact that Pakistan cannot host Australia in their own country.

     

    Pakistan will 'host' Australia at Lord's in the first of two Test matches in July, so the ECB have taken full advantage by cramming in five one-dayers at the end of June.

     

    Many believe that this kind of opportunist scheduling devalues proper encounters, and it can be argued that it is not a fitting way for the two countries to meet.

     

    For me, England against Australia is an exceptionally special rivalry and in many ways it is not the type of fixture which should be nestled in between other Test series.

     

    However, I am sure the public

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  • Disgruntled Anderson’s morale vital for Ashes

    Anyone who tells you that they are not already thinking of the Ashes in November is frankly lying, and England need to get their top paceman back on side.

     

    James Anderson is at a crossroads in his career because his ability to lead the bowling attack is being constantly questioned, and he feels he has been snubbed.

     

    There is no doubt in my mind that for England to win the Ashes Down Under, Anderson needs to be fit, firing and brimming with confidence.

     

    But the Lancastrian is a good way from being on top of his game or in high spirits: his latest sign of discontent must be a huge concern for team director Andy Flower.

     

    Anderson is peeved at being rested for the tour of Bangladesh, before he was confined to a watching brief at the ICC World Twenty20.

     

    The paceman said being excluded took the wind out of his sails and made him angry, but he cannot be too outspoken considering that England won both the Test series, then the tournament in the West Indies.

     

    It is only natural that a

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  • Doubts over Strauss captaincy absurd

    Andrew Strauss should lead the England one-day side without doubt and it is frankly ridiculous that his spot is even questioned.

     

    A dangerous uncertainty appears to have left his place in the team shrouded in doubt after national selector Geoff Miller failed to confirm in a radio interview that the Test skipper would continue in his role for the 50-over side.

     

    Of course, Twenty20 cricket is an entirely different proposition, but Strauss has more than enough clout as a batsman and as a skipper to remain in charge in the 50-over format.

     

    It was always going to be interesting to see how the Middlesex opener slotted back in after missing the tour to Bangladesh and the ICC World Twenty20, but his transition back into the Test side was seamless and successful.

     

    The last time Strauss played in limited-overs cricket was back in November when he led England to a sensational 2-1 series win in South Africa - a feat which has never received its due recognition.

     

    Before the tour to South

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  • England attack taking shape

    The jigsaw that is the England bowling attack seems to be piecing together nicely ahead of the Ashes series in Australia this November.

     

    It was only last week that many people were slamming the England selectors and saying that the bowlers were inadequate and impotent.

     

    But it is clear that in Steven Finn and Ajmal Shahzad, Geoff Miller and Andy Flower have managed to find two young bowlers who can be a huge part of the side for many years to come.

     

    James Anderson has come in for a lot of stick over recent months, but the paceman bowled superbly and took the three big wickets at the top of the order in the shape of Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique and Mohammad Ashraful.

     

    Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons singled out Anderson and Graeme Swann as being the bowlers who tore the heart out of his side, and he is not wrong: the pair led the attack brilliantly.

     

    I was very impressed with Shahzad on the county circuit last season, and he is a fine player who will continue to improve a lot over

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  • Bresnan not a Test match paceman

    It was not the best performance by Tim Bresnan in the first Test against Bangladesh at Lord's, but I do not believe he is being used in the right way.

     

    I have a great deal of sympathy for the Yorkshireman, because he is a very fine, functional all-rounder who is being judged as an out-and-out quick bowler.

     

    Partly due to England's desperation to fill the void left by Andrew Flintoff, and as a result of his fine bowling in the World Twenty20, Bresnan has suddenly been thrust into the Test arena as a new ball bowler. It is just not the way he should be used; not utilising his talents in the right way.

     

    Bresnan (pictured, right) is a hardworking, solid cricketer who will always give his all for England and for Yorkshire, but he will never be Flintoff, just as he will never be an opening bowler with a red ball in his hand.

     

    He might have led the attack superbly in West Indies, but one-day cricket is very different to the Test arena, and it requires very different qualities from the

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  • Prodigious, but not the Finn-ished article

    Steven Finn's performance at Lord's again shows the paceman's immense talent and it is even more exciting to realise that he still has a lot of improving to do.

     

    The 21-year-old fast bowler continues to go from strength to strength, and his nine wickets in the first Test against Bangladesh only serves to show how good he is already.

     

    In what was a pretty average all-round performance from England's bowlers, Finn stood out throughout the match and thoroughly earned his man-of-the-match award at the end of it.

     

    After working with the Middlesex man at close quarters with the England Lions, it is apparent that there are few cricketers who work harder at their game, and I was delighted to see him bowl with such confidence.

     

    It must have been a real thrill for him to get his name on the Lord's honours board, and he has seized the opportunity handed to him by the selectors.

     

    I said before the start of the tour to Bangladesh that I thought Finn would make a huge impact in the upcoming

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