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Saturday, August 21, 1999 Published at 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK

Sport: Cricket

Thorpe pulls out of tour

Thorpe has suffered from poor form and a bad back

Out-of-form batsman Graham Thorpe has pulled out of England's winter tour saying he wants to spend more time with his family.

The decision came with the 30-year-old playing a crucial role in his country's final Test of the summer against New Zealand.

Thorpe was 28 not out at the end of Saturday's third day of the fourth Test at The Oval.

England, with eight wickets remaining, need a further 155 runs to beat New Zealand and avoid becoming the holders of the title of world's worst team.

The losers of the series, tied at 1-1, will sink to the foot of Wisden's unofficial Test league table.

Surrey left-hander Thorpe has endured a miserable summer's international cricket and many had questioned whether his form was good enough for the winter trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"I have not taken this decision lightly and know exactly what it means," he told the Mail on Sunday.

[ image: Chairman of selectors David Graveney understands the decision]
Chairman of selectors David Graveney understands the decision
"By giving up my place in the team I am letting someone else in and I may never get back. "But I have a young family and they come first. I need to achieve some balance in my life."

Thorpe will miss the five-Test series in South Africa to spend more time with wife Nicola, two-year-old son Henry and six-month-old daughter Amelia.

But he will make himself available for the one-day internationals that follow against South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"I consider it an honour to have represented my country and my ambition to do well for England is as high as it has ever been," he added.

"But nothing is more important than my family and I have asked the selectors not to consider me for the Test series against South Africa."

Understanding chairman

Chairman of selectors David Graveney said: "We fully understand his decision and the fact he wants to put his family first.

"Graham understands the consequences of giving up his place so that somebody else comes in.

"In the immediate future the focus of Graham and the rest of the England team is very much on the final Test and our desire to win both the match and the series."

Thorpe has been away on the last five senior England tours and before that on four trips with the 'A' team.

His last two winters to the West Indies and Australia have been cut short through a back injury.

At one stage he was the top Englishman in the world rankings, but he has struggled to maintain the form which made him one of the first names on any Test team-sheet.

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