Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

England showed great attitude in their superb Ashes victory, no doubt about it. They played as a unit and everyone came to the party. I can’t fault this side at the moment as it’s gelling so well, no question whatsoever.

The lads have no time to bask in the glory, as they face an arduous one day and Twenty20 series against the aussies before embarking on a tour of the number one country in test cricket – South Africa. South Africa is one of the toughest tours in test cricket, absolutely, without question. The team will need to maintain its’ focus and stick to the basics if they are to have any success on the hard pitches over there in my opinion. I believe they will need to adjust the bowling line-up to compete on South African surfaces, for sure. Onions and Anderson would have a tough time over there, as they only achieve success when the ball is swinging in overcast conditions. I would drop both of them and bring in Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett. Finnsy and Tremmy are both tall bowlers with good pace that unsettles the best batsmen – and in South Africa you need plenty of it, for real. For my money, there’s no substitute for pace in the modern game and I’d pick those two lads for sure. With Harmy and Broady in the mix that’s got to add up to a mean proposition for any batsman, that’s for sure.

Without question, the batters need shaking up a bit, without doubt. Straussy’s safe in my book, because he’s captain and he has a big impact on the game. The modern game is about players who can make an impact and change the course of a game. Good test matches are often won or lost in a session and that’s down to a player putting their hand up and getting in amongst the opposition, whether it’s with vital runs, a five-for or some lightning-quick fielding. My money’s on Straussy to have a good series over there, I’d put money on it for sure. Cooky’s had a bad run recently and needs to work on his technique. South Africa’s bowlers will exploit his technical weaknesses, no question about it. I’d bring in Joe Denly, as he’s got a good temperament and batted well against Ireland recently. Plus the left-hand-right-hand opening combo will frustrate the opening bowlers as they will have to keep re-adjusting their lines. Belly’s in last chance saloon these days and I’d drop him when Pietersen’s fit again. The best way to fight South African bowling is with South African batting, so with Strauss, Trott and Pietersen in the top order England will have this in bucketloads, no question about it. Collingwood’s days at the top are over, simple as that. Sure, he’s got character and aggression, but test cricket is about technique and ability – and his have been exposed by the aussie bowlers, no question of a doubt about it, for sure. In my opinion Keysy would make a good substitute for him – he’s got fire in his belly and he’s been one of the leading batters on the circuit – that’s what I’m talking about. Colly’s been a great servant to the game, no doubt about it, but it’s time to move on and look forward. Keysy deserves his chance, no question.

With Freddie retired the rest of the lads are going to need to work harder and up their games if they are to succeed going forward. I think they’ve got the fight to compete, that’s for certain. I back them to do well in South Africa, as long as they stick to the basics and work hard.

Thorpe’s England XI for South Africa: Strauss, Denly, Pietersen, Trott, Key, Prior, Broad, Swann, Tremlett, Harmison, Finn.

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