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England's Mr.Consistent is back

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Monday, September 1, 2003, 14:30 [IST]
 
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Bangalore: At last he is back. England's ''Mr. Consistent'' Graham Thorpe's recall to the squad for the decisive fifth Test at Oval was on the cards ever since the English team was battered and bruised by the South Africans. That it required an injury to bring him back in contention is a tragic irony of sorts for this flamboyant southpaw who was once the lynchpin of English batting. The Surrey batsman, who is 34, has been missing from the team since he dropped out after the Lord's Test against India last year due to personal problems connected with the break-up of his marriage. He also withdrew from last winter's Ashes tour, after originally being selected on the tour party. It is said that age is no bar for performance. Remember the avuncular rotund frame of Colin Cowdrey being brought out of wilderness to be sent Down Under to counter Lillee, Thomson and Co in 1976. Thorpe should have been in the team in the first instance itself. But for reasons unknown, he was left out, despite being in awesome form with the willow and having committed himself. But with England desperately needing a victory to square the series against Proteas, and a broken toe suffered at Headingley ruling Nasser Hussain out, England had to revert back on him to bail them out of the present mess. A match winner to the core, Thorpe began his Test career with a bang by scoring a ton on debut Bangalore: At last he is back. England's ''Mr. Consistent'' Graham Thorpe's recall to the squad for the decisive fifth Test at Oval was on the cards ever since the English team was battered and bruised by the South Africans. That it required an injury to bring him back in contention is a tragic irony of sorts for this flamboyant southpaw who was once the lynchpin of English batting.

Graham Thorpe The Surrey batsman, who is 34, has been missing from the team since he dropped out after the Lord's Test against India last year due to personal problems connected with the break-up of his marriage. He also withdrew from last winter's Ashes tour, after originally being selected on the tour party.

It is said that age is no bar for performance. Remember the avuncular rotund frame of Colin Cowdrey being brought out of wilderness to be sent Down Under to counter Lillee, Thomson and Co in 1976.

Thorpe should have been in the team in the first instance itself. But for reasons unknown, he was left out, despite being in awesome form with the willow and having committed himself. But with England desperately needing a victory to square the series against Proteas, and a broken toe suffered at Headingley ruling Nasser Hussain out, England had to revert back on him to bail them out of the present mess.

A match winner to the core, Thorpe began his Test career with a bang by scoring a ton on debut against archrivals Australia at Nottingham in 1993. He played a crucial role in England's triumphs over Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the sub-continent as well as in the quadrangular tournament in the Emirates.

At one stage he was dubbed captaincy material, but things didn't go his way. To prolong his Test career, he was even forced to call it quits from the instant version of the game.

Now, he has got a golden opportunity to add to his tally of 5109 runs in 77 Tests that has returned him an average of around 42. A thrilled Thorpe, who has committed himself to the forthcoming tours of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and West Indies this winter, says, "I don't think I've got anything to lose. I've got four, maybe five, years of playing cricket left and if I play for England in that period, fantastic. Whether it's one game, 10, 20 or 30 games I will be doing my best and we will have to see how it pans out."

As the selection committee chairman David Graveney avers, "Graham is a proven performer at Test level and I'm sure that he will relish the challenge." Yes, that is what all cricket lovers would like to watch, Mr. Consistent to grab this opportunity with both hands.against archrivals Australia at Nottingham in 1993. He played a crucial role in England's triumphs over Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the sub-continent as well as in the quadrangular tournament in the Emirates. At one stage he was dubbed captaincy material, but things didn't go his way. To prolong his Test career, he was even forced to call it quits from the instant version of the game. Now, he has got a golden opportunity to add to his tally of 5109 runs in 77 Tests that has returned him an average of around 42. A thrilled Thorpe, who has committed himself to the forthcoming tours of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and West Indies this winter, says, "I don't think I've got anything to lose. I've got four, maybe five, years of playing cricket left and if I play for England in that period, fantastic. Whether it's one game, 10, 20 or 30 games I will be doing my best and we will have to see how it pans out." As the selection committee chairman David Graveney avers, "Graham is a proven performer at Test level and I'm sure that he will relish the challenge." Yes, that is what all cricket lovers would like to watch, Mr. Consistent to grab this opportunity with both hands.

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