Thorpe set for provisional Ashes place

David Llewellyn
Thursday 26 December 2013 04:19
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Graham Thorpe was believed to have had further discussions with the chairman of selectors, David Graveney, in London last night as he continued his attempt to persuade the England management that he is ready – mentally, emotionally and physically – to undertake the rigours of an Ashes tour this winter.

It is understood that the England management have expressed interest in Thorpe's participation in Australia, and that he is likely to be made a provisional member of the party, on condition that he plays in Surrey's remaining County Championship matches, away to Hampshire next week and at home to Leicestershire the week after.

Last night's meeting was understood to be as much about finalising arrangements for the trip "down under" as about spelling out precisely what is expected of Thorpe, 33, who averages 46 against Australia.

If he is selected for the tour, it will be quite a turnaround. It had been thought that by announcing his retirement from one-day internationals earlier this season, and subsequently pulling out of all of cricket for county and country for the foreseeable future, Thorpe had ruled himself out of contention for the trip to Australia.

The left-hander has been involved in divorce proceedings from his wife, Nicky, and has had to fight for access to his two children Henry, five, and Amelia, three.

After a great deal of worry, it would appear that Thorpe has resolved the majority of the issues that have been occupying him all season and now he has rediscovered his appetite for the game and is confident he can clear his mind of all else but cricket on what is a tough enough tour at the best of times, but which could well prove an unholy ordeal for anyone in a fragile emotional state.

There is little doubt that Thorpe has experienced the worst of times in his private life recently.

It is highly unlikely, though, that Thorpe will be among the 16 players to be awarded a lucrative 12-month contract. The names of the centrally contracted players will be revealed next Tuesday and another player expected to be chosen for the Ashes tour but not receive one is the fast bowler Darren Gough, of Yorkshire.

Gough and Thorpe, if they perform creditably in Australia, could pick up a six-month contract next April, although they can expect stiff competition from Academy players, and the England and Wales Cricket Board is prepared to offer up to four of those shorter deals, making it even tougher for the two "old timers".

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