Cricket: Thorpe lives up to all the hype: Surrey's combative left-hander proves a point or two to the selectors

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The Independent Online
SIR LEN HUTTON is said to have observed that fast bowling is best played from the non-striker's end. Similarly, a cricketer's reputation can often be enhanced more by not playing than by playing - especially if the team is losing.

It happened this summer with Graham Thorpe, whose tour of the Caribbean this year took on such mythical qualities the longer England ignored him that he seemed a certainty for the Ashes tour on the grounds that he has been unable to play himself out of the side.

Eventually, however, even with the horse-trading that has sometimes passed for selection meetings this summer, the clamour to play him was answered and Thorpe was given the chance to justify his burgeoning reputation - or to fail and play himself out of a tour Ray Illingworth had virtually promised he was booked on to.

For it is all very well people saying you should be in the side, once in it - as John Crawley is finding - you have to produce the goods.

Thorpe has done that. Having made 72 in the first innings he added a sparkling unbeaten 51 last night, regaining the initiative just as he had when joining Alec Stewart in the Barbados Test last April. His contribution to that win - his impetus coming when Stewart was becoming bogged down - was overshadowed by Stewart's achievements in the same way as his first innings here was obscured by Mike Atherton's near-century. Today his he is likely to have to sacrifice a possible century in pursuit of quick runs before the declaration.

'That is the way it goes,' he said. 'I did it in Barbados and am happy to do so again. While personally it has gone well, it will mean that much more if England can win. It has been a long wait to play but I have felt frustrated rather than annoyed - I have wanted to play for England. It was close each time but I could understand the reasons. Once in you have to take the opportunity and I am pleased I have straight away.'

'He has proved what a good player he is,' Keith Fletcher, England's coach, said before adding: 'He and Graeme Hick batted very sensibly.' Fletcher said in an ideal situation England would like to declare 300 ahead, with 20 minutes bowling before lunch.

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