Ashes a ‘wake-up call’ for England batters

Rory Dollard |

Graham Thorpe has said he believes England’s under-performing batters have been handed “a wake-up call” by their Ashes travails and has already begun the work of rebuilding their techniques.

With head coach Chris Silverwood in isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the touring camp, Thorpe will step up from his assistant role to take charge of the New Year Test in Sydney.

At 3-0 down, the series and the urn are long gone but there are still no hiding places for a batting unit that has been ruthlessly exposed.

No England player has made a century in the series, with captain Joe Root and Dawid Malan the only squad members to reach 50.

Thorpe, who played 100 Tests, accepts there is an element of shell-shock among the group but highlights the gulf between the challenge in front of them and the domestic game they emerged from.

“They’re trying to learn in county cricket but the truth is when they come out of county cricket they have to learn again, because Test cricket is 10 times harder,” said Thorpe.

“County cricket is what it is, you’ve got to lift players out of there, then educate them into international cricket.

“When I look at the batting in general, I try to teach the basics of the game. We are trying to still educate some of the younger guys into that, the rhythm of Test match batting, playing situations in the game, doing it for long periods of time. Some of them haven’t been able to do it yet. Some people’s journeys are in different places.

“With some players it’s a wake-up call and could actually kick-start their careers because they’ve started training in a very, very different way. They don’t waste time fluffing, hitting half-volleys.

“They’ve come up against some very good bowling attacks, who have been able to have a little watch of them and see where some of their Achilles heels are – and they’re having to face that reality.”

Thorpe will take the reins at a ground where he began his coaching career with New South Wales more than a decade ago working with then up-and-coming prospects Steve Smith and David Warner.

“It was a great life experience and a wonderful opportunity to live and work in a different environment,” he said.

“People like Davey and Steve, seeing them when they were younger, they were not cut out the way they are now and and some of our players need to understand that.

“Players have to work out where they want to get to and the hard work needed.”

Thorpe has turned to former Surrey team-mate Adam Hollioake as coaching support. Though Melbourne-born and now living on the Gold Coast Hollioake played Test cricket for England and captained the one-day side.  

Local health restrictions mean that, as a late arrival from a different state, he is currently only cleared to work outdoors with the team.

“He’s keen, so we’re looking to see if we can push that through,” said Thorpe.

“He can bring a bit of energy to the dressing room and the philosophical side of life as well, which is very important in times like this.”