Graham Thorpe has put his Ashes tour place this winter in jeopardy after telling his county, Surrey, that he does not want to play for them any more this season.
Thorpe, who was 33 earlier this month, attended a meeting with the Surrey chief executive, Paul Sheldon, yesterday at which he confirmed his decision to extend his break from the game while he sorts out his troubled personal life. He is presently engaged in a divorce from his wife, Nicky, and is believed to be seeking access to his young children aged five and three.
"We don't expect Graham to be back this season," Sheldon said yesterday. "I think he wanted to make it clear [to us] so that he could take a full break and do what he feels he has to, and end the speculation. We fully agree with his decision.
"We have shown him as much support as we can, both with the hand of friendship and as responsible employers and we see a good number of years in Graham as a professional cricketer. He still has two years of a contract with us and there is no reason to suppose he won't play for us again next year."
Sheldon would not be drawn into commenting on Thorpe's Ashes chances, but the England coach, Duncan Fletcher, is believed to have told Thorpe he needed to get in a few games with Surrey if he wanted to be considered for the tour.
Thorpe last played for Surrey at the end of May before announcing, after the NatWest series, that he was retiring from one-day international cricket. Following the first Test against India, he said that he would be taking a complete break from all cricket for an unspecified period.
After yesterday's tête-à-tête with Sheldon that time off looks as if it will stretch into next season, and there is no guarantee that Thorpe will return even then. He may yet be steeling himself for retirement and end a 15-year career in which he has played 77 Tests.
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