Ashes snub and family duty lead Thorpe to retire

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Thorpe's omission from the start of the Ashes series clearly forced him into a re-think about his situation. The success of Kevin Pietersen, who was preferred to the Farnham-born Thorpe for the opening Test at Lord's, will also have played a part in the 35-year-old's decision.

The gritty Surrey left-hander, who in the second test against Bangladesh earlier this summer became the eighth England player to win his 100th cap and who leaves the international arena with 16 Test centuries, said: "I was disappointed last week but I accepted the decision. I did not react to it straight away. I thought about it for a few days.

"It's more to do with things going on off the field. My partner, Amanda, is expecting a baby in the next couple of weeks. Once England had overlooked me I thought I'd concentrate on playing the rest of the summer with Surrey, but more importantly I wanted to be at home for the birth and be around fully."

Asked whether he would be prepared to reverse his decision in the event of injury to an England player Thorpe, whose highest score was the unbeaten 200 he scored against New Zealand in Christchurch three years ago, said: "I think that would be a backward step by England. This is the best for everybody."

Thorpe's career figures make for impressive reading. In the century of Tests he has scored since his debut, which he marked with a hundred in the second innings against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1993, he scored 6,744 runs at an average of 44.66, well above the accepted benchmark of 40 generally considered to mark out the highest class of Test player.

Alec Stewart, a long-time Surrey and England colleague, hailed Thorpe's England contribution. He said: "He has been a great player and servant for England and since he came back from his injury and domestic problems a few years ago his performances have been fantastic.

"I first saw him play when he was just 17 and I have watched him mature into a superb cricketer."

David Graveney, England chairman of selectors, paid tribute to Thorpe, saying: "Graham was one of the leading players of his generation. He will be remembered as a tenacious batsman who served England with great ability and great pride."

Thorpe's Surrey and former England colleague Mark Butcher added: "Graham is a fantastic cricketer and one of England's finest-ever batsmen."

Career of England's gritty left-hander

1969: born 1 August, Farnham, Surrey.

1988: Championship debut for Surrey.

1992: 216 against Somerset at The Oval.

1993: Century on Test debut, in Ashes series at Trent Bridge.

2002: Withdraws from all cricket - soon returns.

2004: 119 not out to rescue England against West Indies in Barbados.

2005: May: Announces plans to coach in New South Wales in winter of 2005-06.

July 14: Left out of 12-man England squad for first Test of the summer against Australia, with Kevin Pietersen taking his place.

22 July: Announces Test retirement.