Thorpe's relocation plans shock England selectors

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The Independent Online

Graham Thorpe effectively announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday when he revealed that he has accepted an offer to play and coach in Australia this winter.

The England batsman will play Grade cricket in Sydney while Michael Vaughan's team tour Pakistan and India, and he is also available to represent New South Wales in the Pura Cup if the State side wish to call on his services.

Should the 35-year-old represent New South Wales he will become the first England player since Ian Botham in 1987-88 to play in what is widely regarded the strongest first-class competition in the world.

"At this stage of my career it makes sense to start planning for the future," said Thorpe on the eve of England's Test match against Bangladesh. "This is an excellent opportunity for me to develop my career in a new environment and I will be using the time to enhance my coaching qualifications, and looking to contribute as much as I can to their cricket on and off the field.

"I informed Duncan Fletcher and David Graveney [the England coach and the chairman of selectors respectively] of my plans on Tuesday and have also assured them that, as far as this summer is concerned, I will be giving my attention to the forthcoming Test series against Bangladesh and Australia."

Since scoring a hundred on his Test debut against Australia in 1993 Thorpe has been regarded as England's premier batsman. The left-hander averages 44 in his 98-Test career, and was expected to become the eighth England player to make 100 Test appearances in the second Test against Bangladesh, which begins in Durham next Friday.

But this revelation, which has caught England's selectors by surprise, should put all that in doubt and this body of men will have serious doubts about picking a player who is seeing out time against the strongest side in the world. Kevin Pietersen get ready.

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