Graham Thorpe

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Blog Posts by Graham Thorpe

  • Denly has a chance to shine

    Joe Denly has a very exciting opportunity to stake a claim for an England Test place in the upcoming one-day series against Australia.


    He's capable of making some good strides, especially if he's given the opportunity to open the batting, and I hope he takes his chance with both hands.


    Denly's domestic record is for Kent is ok. He averages 36.84 in the first-class cricket and 33.37 in the 50-over game. But I think he's capable of being a big player for England if he fulfils his potential.


    Nobody really put pressure on Alastair Cook over the summer, but I think Denly can seriously threaten his place if he has a good couple of weeks.


    Another player I'll be watching closely is Luke Wright from Sussex. He's at a stage where he needs to press on and put in some big match-winning performances for England in Twenty20 and one-day internationals.


    Wright is clearly a confident player. He can bat aggressively, offers something with the ball and is a superb athlete in the field.


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  • Bowling will be key to victory in South Africa

    England should head to South Africa this winter full of belief. They've won there before and there's no reason Andrew Strauss and his men can't do it again.


    It's a four-match Test series and I think if England come away with a draw or better we can consider that a move forward.


    South Africa are a very strong side. And the fact Australia went there and won a series recently shows us just how impressive England's Ashes win actually was.


    The question now is how England can develop and improve from this summer.


    The biggest challenge you face in Australia and South Africa is adapting to how the Kookaburra ball swings.


    In England our Duke balls don't swing at all until 20 overs into a game, but a Kookaburra will do the opposite. The ball will swing straight away for the first 20 and then stop altogether.


    This means the seamers will need to hit the wicket hard and use different approaches to get wickets - like putting a man deep on the hook and fishing for it.


    James Anderson,

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  • England’s Ashes winners and losers

    After watching England regain the Ashes with a superb performance at The Oval, here are my winners and losers from the summer.




    Stuart Broad


    There's a lot of expectancy surrounding Broad, with many suggesting he is the natural heir to Freddie Flintoff. But when your dad's played cricket for England you already carry a lot of pressure and I think Broad's in a good place to deal with it. He takes everything in his stride and he's a humble lad. He doesn't take anything for granted. And he's already got three five-fors - as many as Fred managed in his entire Test career. I predict that Broad will finish his career with a superior record to Fred. He might not have the same ability to have an impact on matches, but he has greater consistency.


    Andrew Strauss


    Strauss has learned very quickly as a captain. He's been under immense pressure and had to stay calm - especially after Headingley. But he's shown great character and he's not one to panic. Moreover, he has good tactical

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  • It’s make or break for Bell and England

    Ian Bell has not performed for England on the biggest stage in the past and, having been backed yet again, he has to deliver when he is most required: it is make or break for him in the decisive Ashes Test at The Oval.


    The most important job for the selectors was to pick the right characters and I am not overly sure that they have succeeded in doing that. Plumping for Bell over Ravi Bopara is a very dubious decision in my opinion.


    I am not sure that Bell has ever performed for England when they have really needed him to do so: his centuries have been scored on flat wickets against sides which were not up to scratch, and to bat him at number three is frankly bizarre.


    You have to back the players who have produced for England in the past: this is not a time to be taking a punt on those with potential and promise but nothing substantial behind them.


    Without being harsh, Bell has 48 caps to his name now and is not young anymore at 27 years old. The excuses have to stop and he has

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  • Two spinners a worthwhile gamble

    The major dilemma facing Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower at The Oval is whether to play two spinners. It represents a gamble because England would then have to win the toss and bat first.


    As everyone knows, you always want to bat first at The Oval and if the toss is won then two spinners would help significantly in the second innings. But it is a very tough call.


    In my opinion, it is more than handy to have more than one spinner at the back end to bowl Australia out twice and to toil away on what is generally a flat batting track.


    England have to be brave and take calculated risks. They have to be ultra aggressive if they are to regain the Ashes, and playing Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann would show positive intent.


    To win the Test, England must be ultra confident in their ability. They have to simplify their approach and stop looking back at their mistakes.


    Australia's bowlers hit their straps superbly in the fourth Test at Headingley, and England must be wary of the threat

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  • Batting mentality Key for England

    If I could make one change to the England side for the final Test at The Oval it would be to bring in Robert Key at the expense of Ian Bell, and drop Ravi Bopara down to bat at number five.


    I think the Kent batsman has got the character to thrive in the heat of the battle and the mentality to step in and bat at number three.


    Can you back Bell and Ravi Bopara when it really matters? I have always said that the Essex batsman is not suited to batting so high up the order as he goes hard at the ball. He must be dropped further down the line up.


    England were in disarray at Headingley, but if you would have said to anyone who has played against Australia in recent years that you have the chance to win the Ashes at The Oval, they would have bitten your arm off.


    The major job for Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower is to make England believe that they can win the series and to realise that the fourth Test is done: they have to just forget about it.


    Bopara looks as though he is really

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  • Australia missing a trick with Clark

    I have no idea what Stuart Clark has done wrong because he should definitely be in that Australia team, no question about it.


    The seamer's consistency and accuracy with the ball has been severely lacking in the visitors' performances so far in the series.


    Brett Lee is a fine bowler and if he is fit to play, as he says he is, then he is worth a spot. However, including Clark would be the priority for me and Lee will not add the reliability which is required by Ricky Ponting.


    England have kept Australia's bowlers at bay pretty comfortably in this series, barring the first innings at Cardiff, and Mitchell Johnson is not the type of bowler you want at Headingley in this erratic form.


    Clark could be the perfect bowler to exploit the pitch at Headingley and, on the other side of the coin, Johnson is unlikely to have any effect at all.


    Headingley is a pitch that rewards discipline, and that is the same for batsmen and bowlers. The seamers will get what they deserve if they are

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  • Bell’s chance to shine

    Ian Bell has a lot to prove when he steps out onto the Edgbaston pitch for the third Ashes Test against Australia.


    He was the obvious choice to replace the injured Kevin Pietersen in the England line-up since there was really no one else out there.


    The only other player with a chance of getting a call-up was Robert Key, who has come into a bit of form of late. But Key's time might just have passed him by, whereas Bell is still very much in the 'system'.


    Having managed to keep on the edges of the squad - he captained the Lions team - he made sure his name cropped up immediately when Pietersen was forced out with his Achilles injury.


    It's always good to give a player another chance after having been left out; it's something we saw the rewards of that 18 months ago with Andrew Strauss.


    When he got left out of the Sri Lanka tour he took a break - and then came back against New Zealand and ended up making his highest ever Test score soon after.


    That little break was enough to

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  • Australia side in the balance

    Australia's side is very much in the balance and if they are to get themselves back in the series they have some very big decisions to make ahead of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.


    If Mitchell Johnson is to retain his place in the team he will need to improve considerably because his bowling performance at Lord's was simply not good enough.


    Johnson has become a weak link with the ball and he will provide a real headache for the Australia selectors because he cannot be relied upon to perform, and the sideshow involving his mother has not helped either.


    Nathan Hauritz has bowled quite well, but he certainly does not demand a place in the side like Shane Warne did, so perhaps he and Johnson should both be under scrutiny.


    I would not be surprised if Australia brought in both Stuart Clark and Brett Lee for the third Test and that would not affect the balance of their side too much.


    However, it is a tough call for Australia because neither bowler is fully up-to-speed, with Clark

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  • England have all the momentum

    England thoroughly outplayed Australia in the second Ashes Test at Lord's, and although Australia showed some grit and determination, they simply were not good enough.


    It was one of the best performances I have seen from an England side for many years, and you have to give the players immense credit for the form they showed over five days.


    Andrew Strauss's side played much more as a team than Australia did, and their unity and spirit was clearly stronger with the result of the match proving that in the end.


    The assurance and confidence England played with is very positive for the rest of the series, and I have not seen that from them since the last Ashes series in this country back in 2005.


    Undoubtedly Andrew Flintoff was the key performer for England and he was inspirational with the ball in hand throughout the Test, particularly on the final day. Graeme Swann (pictured) also bowled brilliantly when it really mattered for his captain, which was very encouraging.


    I have

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