London: England included Graham Thorpe in its 16-man squad for the upcoming Ashes tour of Australia announced here on Tuesday even though the experienced middle-order batsman has been in self-imposed exile from all cricket since July.
After England's first Test win over India at Lord's, Surrey left-hander Thorpe said he was taking an indefinite break to try to deal with problems in his personal life caused by the break-up of his marriage and arguments over access arrangements to his five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. Thorpe's decision had led to speculation that, following his retirement from One-day International cricket, he had effectively ended his England career. But the 33-year-old's undoubted Test class and fine record against Australia, together with his assurances about his private life convinced the England management to pick him. England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, announcing the squad here at Lord's, said, "I wouldn't want to be specific but there has been a change of circumstances in his (Thorpe's) private life that has made it possible for us to proceed." In a statement, Thorpe said, "I am delighted to have been picked for the tour having not played for five or six weeks. There was a lot of doubt about whether I would go and it's up to me now to repay the faith that the selectors have shown in me. "I feel the break has given me the chance to clear my mind and address the off-the-field issues which were there before. Everything is now more settled in my private life and I'm looking forward to playing cricket again. "I'm hoping to play for Surrey tomorrow (Wednesday) against Hampshire and looking forward to getting back in the swing of things. It will be nice to have a bat in my hand again and I know that I am going to work hard in the run-up to the tour because Australia is a tough place to tour." In the other major talking point, England has also taken a gamble on fast bowler Darren Gough. The Yorkshire quick has had three knee operations in five months, missing all of England's seven Tests at home this season, only appearing briefly during the triangular One-day series. Squad: Nasser Hussain (Essex, captain), Mark Butcher (Surrey), Andrew Caddick (Somerset), John Crawley (Hampshire), Richard Dawson (Yorkshire), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire), James Foster (Essex, wicket-keeper), Ashley Giles (Warwickshire), Darren Gough (Yorkshire), Stephen Harmison (Durham), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Simon Jones (Glamorgan), Alec Stewart (Surrey, wicket-keeper), Graham Thorpe (Surrey), Marcus Trescothick (Somerset), Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire)