Thorpe: 'I've been struggling'

By Myles Hodgson
Thursday 30 December 2004 01:00

Graham Thorpe last night expressed his delight at scoring a century to help England out of another tricky situation and leave South Africa facing one of the biggest run chases in history to win the second Test.

An unbeaten 118, compiled in more than five hours at the crease, was the Surrey left-hander's fifth hundred since returning to international cricket, from a year off, in 2003.

"It's hugely satisfying to play a knock like that at that stage for us because I've been struggling and haven't had any runs, but it was great to be able to do it for the team again today in that type of situation," said Thorpe, who hit 15 boundaries. "I'm glad I've been able to do it in these situations. Maybe as I've got older it helps me when it's mapped out exactly what you've got to do.

"It doesn't mean to say you're going to do it every time, but I'm certainly proud that I put my hand up today for the team when it was needed."

Thorpe maintained that victory was still anything but assured on a wicket which still favours the batsman. "I don't think it's going to be straightforward and I wouldn't say we're going to walk away with a victory," he said. "We're going to have to bowl very well because the ball gets softer as the day goes on and Ashley Giles is going to have to play a big part.

"But South Africa are also going to have to play very well either to win the game or to see the day out. It's not going to be easy for them and it's not going to be easy for us to try and win the game either, but we're proud that we've been able to turn the Test match around in the way we have. Three hundred and fifty is a lot to get and if they get it then they will have played really well and we'll take our hats off to them. But I'd rather be in our position than theirs."

However, the hosts are not fazed at the task ahead of the them. "We're quite happy with the declaration," said the young fast bowler Dale Steyn. "Maybe 30 or 40 runs less would have been better for us, but we're quite happy to chase down that target.

"We'll be going out tomorrow to try and win the game - we've got nine wickets in hand and we want to win so what better way to do it than on the fifth day of a good Test match?"

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