Graham Thorpe

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Blog Posts by Graham Thorpe

  • Playing Bangladesh, different rules apply

    There are many selection and tactical issues which have come out of the first Test, but England have to realise that when playing against Bangladesh, different rules apply.

     

    On the whole, the tourists won convincingly and gained real positives from the performances of Graeme Swann, Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood, to single out a few, but inevitably there are aspects of England's approach which it is right to address.

     

    It was obviously the wrong decision from Cook to not enforce the follow-on in the first Test but, without being too disrespectful, it was just batting practice for England and did not matter a jot.

     

    Bangladesh do not have the depth of understanding to be competitive at international level and, while the Tigers have a few talented young players, they should never be a serious challenge for other sides.

     

    It is certainly a growing trend for England to set world-record totals for their opposition, and clearly against Bangladesh that was wholly unnecessary.

     

    But,

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  • The world’s best spinner is English

    Graeme Swann's stock continues to rise with his 10 wickets against Bangladesh - and he now has to be regarded as the best spinner in the world.

     

    The key to his game is that he knows his art very well, and that can only come from years of hard graft and patience - in that sense, Swann has served his time and is now reaping the rewards.

     

    He has proven his quality against the world's best, and the next challenge for him will be to produce the goods in India, where he began his international career.

     

    If you look at the other spinners on the international circuit, you would have to say that Swann is the best out there at this moment.

     

    Danish Kaneria, Nathan Hauritz, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh: you would be hard-pressed to prove that any one of those players are better than Swann on current form.

     

    The England spinner has natural variation, magnificent control and flight, and a fine arm ball. He may not have a doosra, but often it is about mastering the basics

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  • Carbs could be cut for Chittagong

    England face a number of selection dilemmas ahead of the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong, and their decisions could prove very significant over the next 12 months.

     

    I think England have to play two spinners, which means that it could be a straight fight for the second spot in the batting line-up between Michael Carberry and Jonathan Trott.

     

    It is going to be very hard on Carberry if he does not get picked as he has been earmarked for an opening spot along with Alastair Cook, but there is no room for sentiment.

     

    With two spinners, it may mean that Jonathan Trott is pushed up to open the batting with Cook, and Matt Prior and that would be harsh on Carbs.

     

    I cannot see how Trott could be dropped after what he did at The Oval last summer, and it would be less upheaval for the side with Andrew Strauss to come back in after this series.

     

    The Warwickshire batsman scored a commanding century in the warm-up match, while Carberry's knocks of five and 35 were not sufficient to

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  • Troubled KP must embrace challenge

    Kevin Pietersen is going through an atrocious run of form and cannot afford to feel sorry for himself, but as England's best batsman he remains undroppable.

     

    There is one thing worse than a batsman who is out of form, and that is a batsman who feels sorry for himself. Pietersen cannot afford to mope about and must embrace being out of form and fight his way out.

     

    The 29-year-old averages 6.25 so far in Tests this year, and he has to enjoy the challenge of working his way out of form - the task will require a lot of character, but he must face it head on.

     

    The tour of South Africa was probably Pietersen's first failure in statistical terms, and he has followed that up with 69 runs in seven innings in Bangladesh.

     

    But KP has produced far too many magnificent innings for England in the past for him to be dropped, and team director Andy Flower knows that he has to stick by his match-winner and best player.

     

    His problem remains left-arm spin, and he needs to simply knuckle down and

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  • Morgan’s maturity sets him apart

    Eoin Morgan's century was as good as I have seen from a batsman single-handedly leading a run-chase under pressure, while all around him were losing their heads.

     

    Morgan has a tremendous range of strokes and a very sound temperament to go with it. The Middlesex man has everything, and his maturity sets him apart from other emerging talent. He thoroughly justifies and deserves the incremental contract he has been awarded by the ECB for 2009/10.

     

    It was another step for him in hitting a match-winning innings. He had already done so in the Twenty20 format for England, but had yet to carry that over into the 50-over game.

     

    He has something different and is able to hit boundaries with shots that other batsmen do not possess. His fielding is also exemplary, and England are incredibly fortunate to have a player of his calibre in their ranks.

     

    It has become increasingly important to find something unique and special as a batsman in limited-overs cricket as bowlers are so adept now at

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  • Tendulkar and Sehwag true greats

    Sachin Tendulkar has always been marked down as one of the game's true greats, and his stunning 200 in the second one-day international against South Africa only further re-enforced that status. The Little Master became the first man in history to hit a ODI double century in Gwalior, in what was his 442nd match in the format, and the aura in which he is held on the world stage is matched by no other modern-day player.

     

    Tendulkar, whose previous best score in a limited-overs match was his unbeaten 186 against New Zealand in 1999, is already the leading run-scorer in Test and ODI cricket and there seems to be no end to his achievements.

     

    At 36 years of age, the India batsman could retire now safe in the knowledge that he is one of the all-time greats - but his hunger and love for the game ensure that he just continues to play.

     

    I have always said that Tendulkar and Brian Lara are the two best batsmen of the modern game, and certainly the greatest I have played against.

     

    For me, Lara

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  • England selection process nothing new

    England's selection process has once again come under close scrutiny following Craig Kieswetter's inclusion in Bangladesh, but it is nothing new.

     

    I am amazed that it has become such a talking point again, because this issue of serving a period of residency to qualify for your country has been prevalent for many years.

     

    In my opinion it is a no brainer to include Kieswetter because he is very hungry and certainly good enough to stamp his mark on the England side.

     

    The Somerset player is full of confidence and has a very sound technique - he has impressed me greatly and his attitude and approach is exemplary.

     

    He has scored heavily for the England Lions and has taken that form on for the senior side with his 143 in Bangladesh.

     

    His performance yesterday did not remotely surprise me after working with him in the Middle East, and he has real talent.

     

    The player I would compare him to would be Australia's Michael Clarke, in the way that he sets up and plays at the crease, but he has

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  • England have to learn from Pakistan

    I am currently in the United Arab Emirates in my role as batting coach for the England Lions, and I can see the matches at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on February 19 and 20 as being very competitive if both sides have the right approach.

     

    Pakistan won the ICC World Twenty20 in England and they achieved that accomplishment with some dynamic batting and aggressive bowling, but I believe Paul Collingwood's side are equally talented.

     

    The lesson that England need to have learnt from Pakistan is to play with freedom and be prepared to throw caution to the wind sometimes, even if it means taking risks right from the outset.

     

    However, it is not good enough to simply attack without showing the required judgement to select your shots - you must bide your time if the bowler is hitting some good areas. There is a way of manoeuvring the ball and preparing to hit anything in the slot, which is something England have been working on.

     

    The matches are the last in this format for both

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  • Gibson to galvanise Gayle’s mob

    The West Indies have been in a rut for a long time, and the challenges which await their new coach Ottis Gibson are immense.

     

    Gibson is pretty experienced now, having coached at the England academy, and worked with the first-team bowlers since 2007.

     

    The 40-year-old had to be persuaded to relinquish his role as England's bowling coach, but understandably, the opportunity to improve the fortunes of his ailing country's side was too much to resist.

     

    Gibson will be responsible for all representative sides, from age-group level right through to the Test team, and that is an incredible undertaking for any relatively young coach.

     

    He has already wisely warned that the fixation with the Caribbean's "glory days" will have to end if the planned reinvestment in grass-roots cricket is to pay dividends, and he is exactly right in that assessment.

     

    However, it is one thing to say that, and another to receive the necessary support and patience from the board in achieving it.

     

    The West Indies

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  • Steyn growing into a great

    Dale Steyn is right up there with the likes of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram for me now, and he continues to improve for South Africa.

     

    The paceman has the best strike rate of any bowler in history who has taken over 150 wickets, and at 38.9 his record is incredibly impressive. His performance in the Proteas' thrashing of India in Nagpur was the mark of someone growing into a true great.

     

    Steyn has 195 Test scalps to his name, and he continues to prove that he can adapt to perform around the world on all kinds of different wickets.

     

    Many very fine bowlers cannot adjust their games to the wide array of conditions which Test cricket can throw up, but Steyn shows time and again that he can do just that.

     

    This two-match Test series between South Africa and India has been rightly talked up as pitting the two best sides in international cricket against each other, and so far the difference has been the pace of Steyn.

     

    For the fast bowler to take 10 wickets for the cost of 108 runs was

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