Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  

Vaughan sings Thorpe song

England one-day captain Michael Vaughan said Tuesday that Graham Thorpe was still the country's best batsman.

Vaughan, speaking ahead of England's rain-delayed one-day international against Zimbabwe at Headingley, told Sky Sports: "Thorpe is probably still our best batter.

"If he is settled and has made it clear he would be available for (the World Cup in) 2007 although I am not a selector I am sure he would have to come into consideration."

Surrey left-hander Thorpe, 33, has been out of England contention since withdrawing from the Ashes tour squad in the last northern winter, citing personal problems following the break-up of his marriage.

Thorpe would be 37 by the time of the next World Cup, and a place in the Test team for the five-match series against South Africa that begins next month appears a more realistic option.

Last year Thorpe announced his retirement from one-day international cricket and soon afterwards played his last Test, against India at Lord's.

However, he has now made himself available again for international matches in both forms of the game and his good form for Surrey, scoring 706 runs in all forms of the game, has put him back in the selection spotlight.

Neither Jim Troughton or Robert Key have impressed in the middle-order during the team's one-day international campaign which Thorpe, skilled at keeping an innings ticking over, has watched from the sidelines after being omitted from the 15-man squad.

But Vaughan is in no doubt about Thorpe's quality. "He is a brilliant player and he would definitely get in your eleven."

Coach Duncan Fletcher suggested earlier this week that England would continue to concentrate on bringing younger players through.

And, although Vaughan admitted he was a vociferous supporter of fast bowler Darren Gough's recall to the one-day team, the Yorkshire batsman echoed Fletcher.

"There are youngsters out there doing well in the counties. So it is difficult do you go back to Thorpe or pick a young player?" he said.

"We are just getting together a team. It is a dilemma for the selectors but it is a good one.

"People know if Thorpe is not in the side they have to play very well to stay in there themselves."