Thorpe announces availability for Ashes tour: report

Published: Sunday, September 1, 2002, 19:58 [IST]
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London: Troubled England batsman Graham Thorpe has told coach Duncan Fletcher he wants to be considered for selection for the forthcoming Ashes tour of Australia, it was reported on Sunday.

Thorpe, 33, decided to take an indefinite break from all cricket after England's first Test victory over India at Lord's in July. His move was prompted by the break- up of his marriage and discussions about access arrangements to his young children, Henry, 5 and Amelia, 3. Last month the England middle-order batsman's county Surrey said it was "extremely unlikely" Thorpe would play for them again before the end of the domestic season. But Thorpe has now said that he wanted to play for the county champions-elect once more before the current English campaign expires later this month. "I spoke to Duncan and told him I want to be considered for Australia. Duncan took on board what I had to say and the reasons for my decision and, although he made no commitment to me, it was important for me to let him know where I stand," Thorpe told the 'Mail' on Sunday. "I know Duncan and Nasser (Hussain, the England captain) will be concerned that the risk in taking me might be too great, but all I can do is try to assure them of my focus and commitment. "There would be no point in making myself available if I wasn't utterly convinced that I would be able to cope with the situation. I will also make myself available for Surrey for the final three weeks of the season. It's important for me to demonstrate that my commitment is real. I'm ready," Thorpe insisted. Fletcher and Hussain are due to have a meeting with Thorpe before the final Test against India on Thursday at the left-hander's home ground of The Oval. Ahead of Thorpe's comments, Hussain said, "Graham needs to convince us and himself he can get through a hard Ashes tour. Only he knows and then the selectors have to decide whether we feel he has the right mentality to get through the whole winter." Earlier this season Thorpe announced his retirement from international One-day cricket in a bid, he said, both to ease his personal problems and prolong his Test career. Then came the announcement of his break from all forms of the game. But, whatever doubts there are about his desire to play for England, Thorpe's record is beyond dispute. In an era where Australia has dominated the Ashes (England's last series victory was back in 1986-87), Thorpe has still averaged over 45 against it, having marked his Test debut with a century against the old enemy. Thorpe, capped 77 times by England, has repeatedly proved himself as a big-match performer, scoring the second-fastest Test double hundred against New Zealand in Christchurch in March. But, thanks to a combination of both personal and back problems, he has only completed one full touring programme out of the past five.

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