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Tuesday, December 8, 1998 Published at 06:29 GMT

Thorpe's Ashes tour up in smoke

Thorpe has been seriously troubled by the back problem

The Ashes tour is over for batsman Graham Thorpe due to a recurrence of the back problem which has plagued him for most of this year.

The England management team announced the decision to send Thorpe home from Australia on the final day of the game against Victoria, which ended in a draw.

Pat Murphy talks to Graham Thorpe about the tour blow
The Surrey left-hander, who underwent surgery to cure back spasms during the summer, suffered renewed stiffness while batting in Melbourne.

Thorpe said he was "deeply disappointed" at this latest setback.

"I had visions of me going off to Adelaide and contributing well to the side so it's a bit of a sudden setback but it's not the end of the world. These things can happen and really it's a case of me going back and putting the hard yards in and getting it right," he added.

No call-ups

England manager Graham Gooch: "He had a chance to prove his fitness, but it wasn't to be"
Tour manager Graham Gooch said: "It was thought that as Graham cannot prove his fitness, it is best to return home to have further consultations about his back and get it sorted out hopefully once and for all.

"We don't feel it is necessary at this stage to bring out another player because the original party was 17 and we are back to the same configuration we had before, but it is disappointing to lose a player of this quality.

[ image: On the way home]
On the way home
"He has a tremendous record against Australia and he is a left-hander in the middle order which tactically is to our advantage."

Thorpe's injury is not the only problem facing England's management three days before the start of the third Test in Adelaide on Friday.

Captain Alec Stewart began the final day of the match against Victoria as a fielder instead of wicketkeeper as a precaution against a bruised thumb.

Stewart's minor worry allowed stand-in Warren Hegg to take the gloves for the first time since playing against Western Australia at Perth over a month ago.

Victoria earn draw

[ image: Dean Headley appeals in vain for lbw against Ashley Gilbert]
Dean Headley appeals in vain for lbw against Ashley Gilbert
England suffered further frustration by having to accept a draw after ripping through a weakened Victoria side to reduce them to 232 for eight with just five overs to go.

But wicket-keeper Peter Roach and Ashley Gilbert came to the rescue for the state side, who had been set a target of 281 to win, by hanging on until the close with the score on 245 for eight.

There was a sour note when Gilbert and England's Mark Ramprakash appeared to be involved in an angry confrontation, but Victoria Cricket Association chief Ken Jacobs said there were no code of conduct violations mentioned in the umpires' match report.

England captain Alec Stewart said: "It was the little and large show - I think with him being very tall and Ramps being very small, he had to get a bit closer to hear what he said. There was nothing untoward. It probably looked a lot worse than it was.


Melbourne Match drawn

Overnight: Victoria 300 (S A J Craig 83 no, P J Roach 80; D W Headley 5-58). England 373 (A J Stewart 126, M R Ramprakash 78, G A Hick 67) and 207-5 dec (J P Crawley 68).

Victoria second innings

M P Mott c Hick b Hollioake 9
J L Arnberger c Sub b Headley 1
G R Vimpani lbw b Fraser 72
B J Hodge c Sub b Croft 50
S A J Craig c Hick b Headley 45
J M Davison c Hick b Croft 0
J R Bakker st Sub b Ramprakash 33
P J Roach not out 24
B A Williams c Fraser b Croft 4
A S Gilbert not out 3
Extras (lb2, nb2) 4
Total (for 8 wickets, 66.5 overs) 245

Fall: 1-3 2-33 3-111 4-156 5-156 6-211 7-216 8-232

Did Not Bat: M W H Inness.

Bowling: Headley 17.5-6-54-2, Fraser 12-2-33-1, Hollioake 10-1-40-1, Croft 20-3-85-3, Ramprakash 7-0-31-1

Umpires: T A Prue and G T D Morrow

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