West Indies Tour: Graham Thorpe calls for improvement from England's World Twenty20 hopefuls after injury troubles
Limited-overs batting coach accepts the top order must put in a better showing to put themselves in the frame for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh
Tuesday 11 March 2014
England are calling on their ICC World Twenty20 hopefuls to prove their mettle in the two remaining matches against West Indies before they fly to Bangladesh.
Confirmation was received on Monday that Joe Root will play no part in the sub-continent, after breaking his thumb against the Windies in last week's one-day international series victory in Antigua.
Ian Bell will replace Root, while captain Stuart Broad and deputy Eoin Morgan's knee injuries are also sources of concern.
In the immediate term, it was hoped Morgan would be able to lead the team in Tuesday's second Twenty20 at the Kensington Oval - where England must win to stay in the series following their 27-run defeat at the same venue on Sunday.
There was little to instil confidence in a performance which illustrated England's continued difficulties against spin - sure to test them to the hilt again once they reach Bangladesh.
Limited-overs batting coach Graham Thorpe acknowledges swift progress must be made, but believes England have it in them.
"We obviously need to improve, at the top in the first six overs, with the bat," he said.
"We've got four games left [before the start of the World Twenty20], and I don't think we're 100% sure on the line-up.
"So we're looking for performances from the guys, to put their hand up and say 'Look, it's going to be me'."
Thorpe, a renowned player of spin during his own 12-year career as an England batsman, believes a tough learning curve against the world's best slow bowlers in alien climes is an occupational hazard for each new generation of his compatriots.
"Playing spin for English players is not straightforward," he said. "We don't play heaps of spin consistently throughout the year.
"We musn't fret about it. We must just improve.
"We have to identify those players who are capable of going to Bangladesh and actually having a gameplan, and the skill to be able to perform - know where they can score their boundaries and put competitive scores on the board in Bangladesh.
"To do that, we have to be bold; we have to hit boundaries, and be able to manoeuvre the ball around against quality spinners - maybe bowlers we don't read as well.
"We're certainly not going to panic, but we're not going to stand here and say we played spin well on Sunday - we didn't."
In pursuit of 170 for three, England stumbled to 55 for five and eventually 143 for nine.
Thorpe believes the remedy is to apply clear thinking and self-belief.
"That was a poor day with the bat - let's maybe give ourselves a little bit more time and look to select better when we go for those big shots," he added.
"We need to remain confident, upbeat and logical about things.
"I back them. They're capable, and they've been there before and done it.
"We must work out which personnel is going to fit into the slots. And in the next four games, we hope it will become clearer and players will stand up and perform."
England all-rounder Ravi Bopara was fined along with West Indies duo Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy after all three admitted to breaching the International Cricket Council's code of conduct.
Bopara was fined 25 per cent of his match fee after the ICC found he was the instigator of the exchange, with Sammy and Samuels fined 20 and 10 per cent respectively.
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