England keep faith with Thorpe as century dawns

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The Independent Online

Graham Thorpe will become the eighth cricketer to play 100 Test matches for England on Friday following his inclusion in Michael Vaughan's side for the second Test against Bangladesh. Prior to the selectors' announcement yesterday morning, there were doubts over whether Thorpe would reach this landmark, after he had revealed his intention to retire from Test cricket at the end of this summer's Ashes series.

Graham Thorpe will become the eighth cricketer to play 100 Test matches for England on Friday following his inclusion in Michael Vaughan's side for the second Test against Bangladesh. Prior to the selectors' announcement yesterday morning, there were doubts over whether Thorpe would reach this landmark, after he had revealed his intention to retire from Test cricket at the end of this summer's Ashes series.

But the selectors feel the 35-year-old's decision to spend the coming winter playing and coaching in Sydney will not have an adverse affect on his cricket, so they named him in an unchanged side. The nuggety left-hander is set to have one final crack at the Australians.

"There has been a lot written about Graham's decision and the selectors were a bit disappointed over its timing," admitted David Graveney, who will overview England's performance as chairman of selectors for the 100th time this weekend. "But I am delighted he is in the squad and plays his 100th Test match. Graham Thorpe's experience and achievements are well documented, but he knows he will have to maintain his form throughout the summer, as all the batsmen do. There are a lot of pretenders out there - Kevin Pietersen being one, Robert Key another - who are challenging for those spots."

Jon Lewis, the Gloucestershire seamer, was also named in the 12-man party but England are unlikely to make any changes to the team that defeated Bangladesh by an innings and 261 runs at Lord's.

England also announced their one-day squad for the NatWest series, and the NatWest International Twenty20 match against Australia, which will be played in Southampton on 13 June. Each of the 14 players named have previously been involved in the England set-up but, unlike the Test side, the selection of this squad seems rather like its cricket - haphazard.

A side injury ruled Alex Wharf out of contention but there have been too many knee-jerk selections over the last 12 months for this squad to be considered part of a well thought-out plan. Ten of the players used by England during this period are now deemed surplus.

Simon Jones is the most interesting selection, in that before this summer he had played only four competitive limited over games for Glamorgan. The fast bowler was taken on England's one-day tour of Zimbabwe and was kept on in South Africa to act as cover for Harmison. But once Harmison proved his fitness, Jones was sent home.

The Welshman gained his place on the back of his bowling in the first Test against Bangladesh, where he took four wickets. But this style of selection has not worked in the past. Matthew Hoggard was added to England's one-day squad following his exploits in South Africa, and where is he now?

The omission of Ian Bell is a surprise but four players are vying for three spots, and Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood hold stronger cards.

England Test squad to face Bangladesh: M P Vaughan (captain), M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, G P Thorpe, I R Bell, A Flintoff, G O Jones (wicketkeeper), G J Batty, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, S P Jones, J Lewis.

England one-day squad for triangular series against Australia and Bangladesh: M P Vaughan (captain), Kabir Ali, P D Collingwood, A Flintoff, A F Giles, D Gough, S J Harmison, G O Jones (wicketkeeper), S P Jones, J Lewis, K P Pietersen, Vikram Solanki, A J Strauss, M E Trescothick.

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