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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July 2005, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Thorpe's winding road
By Oliver Brett

THORPE'S RECORD
Graham Thorpe
100 Tests
6,744 runs, average 44.66, 16x100, 39x50, highest score 200 not out, 105 catches
Only nine players have scored more Test runs for England
82 ODIs
2,380 runs, average 37.18, 21x50, highest score 89,
42 catches

It has been a bumpy ride at times, but Graham Thorpe will probably be regarded as the best English batsman of his generation.

Only the eighth Englishman to play 100 Tests, he was frequently the man closing out victories - in places like Colombo, Karachi or Nottingham.

Whether under Nasser Hussain or Michael Vaughan's captaincy, he was so often the man who earned the plaudits.

The debate over his place for the Ashes series was a vigorous one for selectors and supporters alike, with Kevin Pietersen getting the nod for Lord's.

It was, however, cruel to deny Thorpe a final chance to nail the Aussies after witnessing so many failed attempts - and barely a surprise that he has now chosen to retire from cricket at 35.

He made his debut in the Ashes summer of 1993, when England's selectors were at their most unpredictable.

Butcher and Thorpe after batting England to victory in Trinidad
Butcher and Thorpe after batting England to victory in Trinidad

But while players like Mark Lathwell and Martin McCague were found wanting at the highest level, Thorpe showed he had the right pedigree as he compiled a fine century at Trent Bridge.

Former England captain and Surrey team-mate Alec Stewart said: "If England were 20-3, he was always a great person to walk out to the crease and his hundred on his debut was very special.

"His century in Pakistan in 2000, when he barely scored a boundary, was a typical Graham Thorpe innings."

In time, another Surrey colleague, Mark Butcher, would join him in the England side.

A few years his junior, Butcher told BBC Sport that it took him a while to learn the Thorpe way of doing things.

"I didn't speak to him as much back in the early days as I did later on in my career," he said.

"But he was certainly someone I paid attention to.

"I would watch him bat against certain types of bowlers, the way he practised and so on.

"He's got a terrific way of being able to adapt to the surroundings and the conditions he's playing in.

100 TESTS FOR ENGLAND
Alec Stewart: 133
Graham Gooch: 118
David Gower: 117
Michael Atherton: 115
Colin Cowdrey: 114
Geoffrey Boycott: 108
Ian Botham: 102
Graham Thorpe: 100

"He's just as happy playing on a quick bouncy wicket in Perth as in dustbowls in Pakistan.

"That's a great tribute to the way he goes about preparing for all the different challenges Test cricket throws up."

After 10 consecutive winter tours, firstly for England A and then England, Thorpe declined the 1999-2000 tour of South Africa.

Then in late 2001, he flew home halfway through the tour to India.

He swiftly returned to England duty a few months later, only for his marriage to break up the following summer, and he was in no fit state for the subsequent Ashes tour.

The last chapter of his England career, since August 2003, was studded with success, however, and Butcher refutes any suggestion that Thorpe was a difficult tourist.

It's been a shame that he's missed as many games as he has
Mark Butcher
"He was good fun to have around on tours. He had a lot of personal issues I guess at certain parts of his career but he didn't hate touring, certainly not.

"He wouldn't have been one of the most gregarious members of the team back through the 90s, but in recent years he really enjoyed it and was a major part of the dressing-room.

"He has always been willing to contribute whether talking about actual cricket or having fun on trips.

"People's personal circumstances affect the way they are at work, I guess. It's no different for cricket players than it is for anyone else.

"It's been a shame that he's missed as many games as he has.

"Certainly, he would have been the first man down on the teamsheet for many years now."

And that last statement is perhaps the best accolade anyone can give Thorpe.



SEE ALSO
Graham Thorpe's career in photos
18 Jul 05 |  Photo Galleries


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