Graham Thorpe

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Blog Posts by Graham Thorpe

  • Proteas embark on toughest challenge

    The upcoming Test series between India and South Africa features the top two sides in the world, and I would fancy the hosts to prevail.

     

    India are a brilliant side at home, and the Tests in Nagpur and Kolkata should give them a chance to consolidate their place at the top of the rankings.

     

    If the series were in South Africa, I would be backing Graeme Smith's side as India do not travel well, but the sub-continent pitches will represent a significant factor as always.

     

    The main asset of this Proteas side, as England discovered, is the pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, but the pitches may negate their effect somewhat.

     

    Morkel, in particular, relies heavily on pitches which are conducive to him getting bounce, and that is unlikely to be the case in India.

     

    Steyn is the top-ranked bowler in the world, and he demonstrated why against England, and whether he can adapt to the conditions will be key.

     

    South Africa do not have long to prepare for the first Test on February 6, with

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  • Pakistan in disarray

    Pakistan's chief selector Iqbal Qasim has described the country's slump to a 5-0 whitewash in Australia as "pathetic" - and he is dead right.

     

    They have now been defeated in nine of their previous 10 one-day international matches. And coupled with the 3-0 thrashing inflicted on the tourists in the Test series, there appears to be no silver lining for Pakistan.

     

    It has all become pretty embarrassing, and that is before you begin to look at the captaincy debacle.

     

    Shoaib Malik has been confirmed as the third captain on Pakistan's tour of Australia, after Mohammad Yousuf and Shahid Afridi, while Younus Khan is not available and Kamran Akmal is hopelessly out of form.

     

    Yousuf, Pakistan's Test captain, is not part of the Twenty20 squad, while Khan, who was recently replaced by Yousuf, had retired from the format following the World Twenty20 victory in 2009.

     

    That brings us neatly to Afridi's absence from the side due to his astonishingly stupid ball-tampering at the WACA, when the

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  • No Harmy in picking Shahzad

    Yorkshire seamer Ajmal Shahzad was one of three uncapped players selected by England for their tour to Bangladesh, but he is not the Steve Harmison replacement that England have been talking about.

     

    It is great to see James Tredwell, Michael Carberry and Shahzad (pictured) all incorporated into the squad for a tour which is being used largely for development purposes, but the trio should not be compared to previous players, such as Harmison and Marcus Trescothick.

     

    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 the next few years; however, he is very different to the pacemen who have played for England recently like Harmison and Simon Jones.

     

    His batting is dubious, but he has some very good attributes as a one-day bowler. He is not particularly quick, but has very good control of the ball and possesses a strong repertoire of variations, which is very important, particularly in limited-overs

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  • Resting Strauss a weak move

    I am not entirely in favour of Andrew Strauss taking a rest to leave Alastair Cook to lead the side in the tour of Bangladesh over Easter.

     

    Strauss and England team director Andy Flower have taken big strides together since they combined forces, and I cannot see the need to tinker around when consistency is needed.

     

    I understand it when England say that the schedule is extremely busy, but Strauss does not play Twenty20 cricket. Injuries are also an inevitable part of international cricket, and if Strauss is sidelined for any reason then he will appreciate the limited shelf life of an England captain.

     

    It is not a bad thing to say "let's bring on a future captain", but you have to be extremely careful because it can ruin the unity of the team and alter some key dynamics within the side.

     

    This is Strauss's team, and his partnership with Flower is crucial to England's future success and it is a relationship that will continue to flourish with experience.

     

    I never played under an

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  • Harper must be shown the door

    Daryl Harper is simply not good enough to be a Test match umpire, and it is most definitely time for the ICC to finally get rid of the Australian.

     

    His presence is making a mockery of the elite panel the governing body have in place, and he must be cast aside now as a matter of urgency because what we saw in this series is not good for the game.

     

    Whenever I have played in a match umpired by Harper, two things have always struck me: he is a very nice bloke, but an extremely poor official.

     

    The Australian must now be told 'sorry, you are simply not good enough; time to collect your cap and take a walk'. To be quite frank, that is the only thing the ICC can possibly do to redeem a hugely embarrassing situation which is not good for anyone.

     

    If that sounds at all harsh then consider this: supposing a player made such a catalogue of dismal decisions then their career would be ended and they would have to drop down a level.

     

    It is a fact of life that the cream rises to the top and, in

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  • Don’t rule out Swann omission

    The fourth and final Test between England and South Africa at the Wanderers is set to be a classic and it may well come down to which side is the bravest.

     

    England have performed superbly to edge out their hosts over the course of the first three Tests and have displayed real character in the process.

     

    But they must now finish the job on what will be a very interesting wicket.

     

    The Bullring will be no place for the faint hearted, and all the talk is of a green, bouncy surface which will firmly favour the seamers. Both sides should select their line-ups accordingly.

     

    South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has refused to rule out playing an all-pace attack at the Wanderers, and I believe England should be brave enough to think along the same lines.

     

    Graeme Swann has been perhaps England's best all-round performer in this series, but if you want to be ruthless and win at all costs, you have to select the best side for the conditions.

     

    For me, spinners are usually wasted in Johannesburg

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  • Test cricket revived by sensational series

    The importance of such a competitive and exciting series as the one between South Africa and England goes much wider than the contest itself - it's just what Test cricket needs.

     

    In this fickle era of fast-food cricket and quick thrills, this series has once again shown the incomparable beauty of Test cricket.

     

    It's funny how at certain points in the history of the game, a series such as this can remind everyone of the value of the longer format.

     

    The 2009 Ashes was a tremendous battle, but that goes without saying and, for many people, the Ashes is an isolated event within the cricket calendar.

     

    But there are not many huge contests around in world cricket, and this series has captured the imagination of everyone.

     

    England showed a huge amount of character at Newlands, and Andrew Strauss's side are making a real habit of rebuffing their opponents.

     

    You can tell the team have a very good spirit; performances like that do not happen without real resolve and determination as a unit.

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  • Composure critical for England at Cape Town

    England will still be buzzing after their emphatic innings victory at Kingsmead, but they will need to calm down quickly to face South Africa's counter-attack at Cape Town.

     

    The Proteas are an exceptionally combative, proud side and Graeme Smith and coach Mickey Arthur will have their team in a fervour ahead of the third Test.

     

    South Africa will have had their pride severely bruised at Durban and you can be sure that they will come roaring back at England when the two sides meet at Newlands from Sunday.

     

    One of the hallmarks of Andrew Strauss's successful reign in partnership with team director Andy Flower has been the way the pair have constantly kept the players' feet firmly rooted to the ground.

     

    England will need to be ultra-composed and collected as they head into the third Test and not be remotely over-confident or complacent - if they are, they will get stung badly.

     

    I have rarely ever seen a South Africa batting line-up collapse in the manner which they did in the second

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  • Inspired England hit new heights

    England's innings victory over South Africa at Kingsmead could well be regarded as a coming-of-age moment for Andrew Strauss's side, who are blossoming into quite a formidable outfit.

     

    It was one of the best England performances abroad that I can remember in recent times: for an all-round performance overseas there are very few to come close to matching it.

     

    The last tour when we were over in South Africa a similar display was turned out, but Strauss will be fully aware of how special and significant that win was.

     

    It is so difficult to get your noses in front against a side like South Africa in their own backyard, and for England to do it in such emphatic fashion is testament to the development of Strauss's team.

     

    What was such a good feature of the match for me was how everyone chipped in and contributed, right the way through the side, which is very rarely the case in an average Test match.

     

    Graeme Swann was undoubtedly the top performer with nine wickets in the match and he

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  • Review of the cricketing year: 2009

    2009 has been a fantastic year for cricket, with England regaining the Ashes, and some incredible moments. I have picked out a few key incidents and performances of the year, and I take a look forward to the coming 12 months.

     

    Greatest match

     

    It would have to be the Ashes Test at the Oval this summer - it had everything: drama, tension, excitement and with the whole series at stake. For England to win the Ashes in such circumstances was incredible, and the way that Jonathan Trott stepped up with his century, and Graeme Swann bowled, was superb. What capped it all off for me was the incredible support from the England fans and the atmosphere it generated. And, of course we cannot forget Andrew Flintoff running out Australia captain Ricky Ponting on the fifth day in his final Test match.

     

    Greatest shot

     

    Ricky Ponting's shot at Trent Bridge off Stuart Broad - in terms of its execution it was faultless and was the classiest drive I have ever seen. Ponting is a classical player, and it

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