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Friday, December 4, 1998 Published at 10:56 GMT

Thorpe back for tour game

Alec Stewart keeps the gloves but Thorpe returns

Injured batsman Graham Thorpe's hopes of playing in the third Test have received a boost with his inclusion in the England team to face Victoria.

Pat Murphy reports from Melbourne
Back problems prevented the Surrey left-hander playing in the defeat in Perth but he will take part in the four day game in Melbourne which starts on Saturday.

The tour selection committee - manager Graham Gooch, coach David Lloyd and captain Alec Stewart - had originally named a 13-man squad to allow Thorpe to have a fitness check in the morning to test out the stiffness in his back which forced his withdrawal from the second Test at Perth last week.

But despite having a planned practice at the MCG ruled out by early rain, forcing the tourists into a curtailed session in the indoor nets, England are satisfied Thorpe will be able to withstand the rigours of a four-day match and have named him in their team.

Butcher rested

Ben Hollioake, Angus Fraser, Robert Croft and Dean Headley will all play after missing Perth, but Warren Hegg misses out with Alec Stewart hanging on to the wicketkeeper's gloves.

Stewart had planned to play just as a batsman and work on rediscovering his batting form after scoring just 49 runs in the two Tests and only twice making double figures in his eight first-class innings on tour.

But England once again changed their mind and have decided to rest opener Mark Butcher, the only England player to score a century in the two Tests, and allow John Crawley to partner Lancashire team-mate Michael Atherton at the top of the order.

"The batsmen all want to continue practising and be involved after the Test," said Gooch.

"We are expecting a tough game but we are keen to get back to winning ways."

Hollioake chance

The all-pace attack which featured in England's seven-wicket defeat at the WACA - Darren Gough, Dominic Cork, Alan Mullally and Alex Tudor - are also rested to allow the other bowlers to stake their claims.

Hollioake has not played since injuring his groin in the opening match against an ACB Chairman's XI at Lilac Hill a month ago.

Gooch said: "We are resting the bowlers who played in the Test and giving the bowlers who missed out a chance to impress."

Victoria have left seven senior players out of their side, mainly because of injury.

Captain Shane Warne says he is still not fit enough and international players such as Paul Reiffel and Matthew Elliott are also injured.

England: M A Atherton (Lancashire), J P Crawley (Lancashire), N Hussain (Essex), A J Stewart (Surrey, capt and wkt), G P Thorpe (Surrey), M R Ramprakash (Middlesex), G A Hick (Worcestershire), B C Hollioake (Surrey), R D B Croft (Glamorgan), D W Headley (Kent), A R C Fraser (Middlesex).

Victoria(from): BJ Hodge (capt), Jl Arnberger, SL Flegler, SAJ Craig, GR Vimpani, JM Davidson, A Gilbert, MWH Inness, JR Bakker, M Mott, P Roach (wkt), BA Williams.

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