Graham Thorpe

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Blog Posts by Graham Thorpe

  • South Africa sterner test than Ashes

    I have always said that playing in India is the sternest test a side will encounter, but touring South Africa will provide an extremely difficult challenge for England.


    Andrew Strauss's side were adept at performing when it really mattered in the Ashes series this summer, and they will need to be equally as clinical against the Proteas.


    Graeme Smith is an exceptional leader and his side reflect his ruthless and uncompromising personality: they will not give England any cheap runs or wickets, that is for sure.


    It would be easy for some people to get carried away with England having won the Ashes, but the fact is that South Africa are above Australia in the Test rankings.


    Smith's side have been more consistent than Australia and they have every bit as much talent, if not more, than Ricky Ponting's players.


    Despite the Ashes only having been this summer, the England side which will play in South Africa will be pretty different.


    It is obviously a huge bonus to have Jonathan

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  • Anderson important, Kallis crucial

    The build-up to the first Test between England and South Africa at Centurion is rightly dominated by the fitness of Jacques Kallis and James Anderson as both will have a large bearing on the series.


    Kallis is crucial to South Africa and the all-rounder is an awesome talent - his fitness will have a large bearing on who wins the series.


    England have a huge amount of respect for Kallis, as they should considering he has racked up 10,000 Test runs and taken over 250 wickets.


    The 34-year-old is a colossus in the middle order, and if the hosts are to be without their rock it could make them very shaky.


    I think Graeme Smith will do everything in his power to ensure that Kallis plays, even if just as a specialist batsman, fielding at slip.


    As a batsman, Kallis possesses incredibly adhesive qualities, and his obdurate approach has proved integral to South Africa's rise to the upper echelons of world cricket.


    He fitness was rated 50-50 earlier in the week, and an element of that

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  • India head new world order

    We have endured an entire decade of Australia dominating world cricket, and it is great to have now a cluster of sides vying for the number one spot.


    India snatched the top status away from South Africa this week, and it will only serve to make Graeme Smith's side even more determined in the upcoming Test series against England.

    Right now, you have India, South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka and England all battling hard to establish themselves as the world's best - that's a very healthy state for cricket to be in.


    All it will take is for one of those five sides to have a powerful run of form through three or four Test series, and each are capable of doing so.


    In the case of India, I would still question whether they are capable of performing away from home on a regular basis, and that could be where South Africa sneak ahead.


    It is pretty ironic that India have risen to the top in a format which some people have accused them of neglecting, but it just goes to show that Test

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  • England must believe in Bresnan

    Tim Bresnan has declared his Test ambitions this week and the burly all-rounder is justified to feel that he should be given a chance to fill the void left by Andrew Flintoff.


    In England's seven-wicket victory over South Africa at Port Elizabeth, he displayed control and hostility to take 1 for 15 in eight overs, and he opened the bowling superbly in the second ODI at Centurion with two wickets for the cost of 46 runs.


    Bresnan has not been included in the Test squad to face South Africa, with Luke Wright and Liam Plunkett selected over his head - I found that quite staggering really.


    England desperately need to find an all-rounder to fill the void at number seven in the batting order, and I love Bresnan's bullish statements about how he intends to win the spot.


    Bresnan has not set the world alight since he made his one-day international debut in June 2006 against Sri Lanka, but he has been very consistent and is showing that he can perform at the top level.


    So much of

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  • Jimmy must fix it more often

    He might be inconsistent, but James Anderson produced one of the best opening spells I have seen in the third one-day international against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.


    It has been a source of great frustration that Anderson rarely strings together a run of performances in a long ODI series.


    As good as his display was in taking career-best figures of five for 23 at Port Elizabeth to give England a 2-1 lead, it is just too rare a feat from the side's main strike bowler.


    Of course, it is difficult to put the onus on one bowler to perform in every match, but England do not have the luxury of having a conveyor belt of quicks.


    Anderson has always been a hot-and-cold performer, and in many ways it depends on the conditions because he is an exponent of swing. That should not be used as an excuse though.


    At Port Elizabeth, the Lancastrian bowled with pace and purpose; striving for wickets, but not at the expense of his accuracy or the pressure he was able to put the batsmen

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  • Refer new system to the bin

    I am dead against the indiscriminate use of the referral system as I want to see cricket played with the umpires' judgement having a prominent role.


    South Africa coach Mickey Arthur is in favour of the system being used in the Test series against England next month, but I don't want to see machines making every decision - it is not healthy for cricket.


    According to the system, each side can ask for a review of an umpire's decision with a limit of two unsuccessful challenges in each innings. Surely this is only going to hold up the game and make it unnecessarily complicated?


    I have always thought that the third and fourth umpires who sit there just sipping away at their cups of tea should be much more actively used to assist the on-field pair with judgement calls - but that would be an entirely natural progression which this is not.


    The umpires should concentrate on getting the system right between them rather than let a machine render their roles obsolete.


    I am not a fan on

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  • Collingwood among the best

    England were terrific in the second one-day international at Centurion and Paul Collingwood was once again instrumental in leading the tourists to victory.


    Andrew Strauss's side won by seven wickets with 24 balls remaining, and that was largely due to Collingwood's superb 105, with Jonathan Trott's 87 also important.


    Not only that, but the Durham batsman also took two wickets for 24 runs and fielded typically well - no one can ever doubt what he contributes in all aspects of the game for England.


    I hope that Collingwood can be consistent with his latest run of good form and perform well throughout the one-day series and then the Tests following it.


    He is often a player who is derided in the media and by supporters because he does not always capture the public's imagination in the same way that Kevin Pietersen, for example, has people captivated by his batting.


    Collingwood is now England's most-capped one-day player and he should be given the credit that he is due for his

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  • Strauss must re-exert his authority

    Andrew Strauss's return will be huge for England as they have really lacked leadership on the tour so far in his absence - he has a huge bearing on the team now.


    Strauss needs to fill his side with confidence because at Centurion they were very flat and timid, unlike the England we saw during the Ashes under the Middlesex batsman's leadership.


    The tourists missed Strauss's conviction in marshalling the side in the field and his batting is always valuable because he is such a fluid player when he is in form.


    Alastair Cook will not play in the one-day internationals which is a good thing as it will free up the top of the order for Strauss to take control.


    I have already said what I think of Cook playing Twenty20 cricket - it is simply the selectors grooming him for the captaincy.


    It is not the right reason to be picking someone as the team must be based on merit, regardless of planning for the future leadership.


    Basically, England are picking Cook with a view to him having

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  • England need bravery to adapt

    England needed to re-jig their batting order to reflect the match situation in the second Twenty20 at Centurion and they showed a distinct lack of flexibility in leaving it set in stone.


    Alastair Cook's side unfortunately reverted back to their long-standing tendency to stick rigidly with plans, which is not at all helpful in the shorter forms of the game - they simply must learn to adapt.


    Eoin Morgan needed to be pushed up the order along with Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott if England were to have any chance of reaching South Africa's total, but that did not happen.


    You simply cannot have someone like Cook facing 37 balls for 26 runs when you are chasing such a huge score. It was a flat wicket so there can be no excuses for that.


    England needed to be brave and say to South Africa: 'right, these are the most attacking batsmen we have and we'll give that total a right good go.'


    Players such as Morgan and Pietersen would have thrived on the confidence and bravery of their

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  • Do not drop dangerous Denly

    I have heard whispers that Joe Denly will be under pressure to score runs early on in the South Africa tour to keep his place - that is ridiculous.


    When Kevin Pietersen returns there will be an almighty fight for places in that batting line-up, and if anyone is under scrutiny it should be Paul Collingwood.


    I have heard murmurings that if Denly does not perform straight away in South Africa then Jonathan Trott will be pushed up to open the batting with Andrew Strauss. Frankly, that would be absurd.


    Denly has been thoroughly impressive since he came into England's one-day side and his 82 in the warm-up match against Warriors only made me more convinced with his ability.


    The Kent batsman has looked composed and fluent at the crease in his fledgling international career, and he should be given a long and extended run.


    England's side has needed an additional edge and it is only positive that competition for spots has been heightened with the emergence of Denly and Trott.


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